Types of relationships

Here is a scale showing closeness and distance in relationships in different contexts.

* ex- can be used with or without (informally) another word: She’s my ex. (girlfriend, etc.)

– Mate is a colloquial word for a good friend. It can also be used in compounds to describe a person you share something with, e.g. classmate, shipmate, workmate, flatmate.
– Workmate is usual in non-professional contexts; colleague is more common among professional people.
– Fiance/ee can still be used for someone you are engaged to, but a lot of people feel it is dated nowadays. You will sometimes see husband-/wife-to-be in journalistic style.
– English has no universally accepted word for ‘person I live with but am not married to’, but partner is probably the commonest.

Liking and not liking someone

– She doesn’t just like Bob she idolises him! I can’t stand him.
– I really fancy Lisa, but her friend just turns me off.
– Fancy and turn off are informal. Repel is very strong and rather formal.

Phrases and idioms for relationships

– Jo and I get on well with each other, [have a good relationship]
– Adrian and Liz don’t see eye to eye. [often argue/disagree]
– I’ve fallen out with my parents again, [had arguments]
– Tony and Jane have broken up / split up. [ended their relationship]
– George is having an affair with his boss, [a sexual relationship, usually secret]
– Children should respect their elders, [adults/parents, etc.]
– Let’s try and make it up. [be friends again after a row]
– She’s my junior / I’m her senior / I’m senior to her, so she does what she’s told, [refers to position/length of service at work]