400 Must Have Words for the TOEFL » LESSON 32 - Family Relationships

Word List
  • ancestral [ænˈsestrəl] adj.
    Relating to family members from earlier generations
    Sweden is my ancestral homeland, from which my greatgrandfather emigrated in 1922.
    Parts of speech     ancestor n., ancestry n.
  • cohesion [kəʊˈhiːʒən] n.
    Ability to stay together as a unit
    Family cohesion is difficult if young people have to go far away to find work.
    Usage tips     Cohesion can also be used to describe forces that keep materials or structures together.
    Parts of speech     cohere v., cohesiveness n.
  • descendant [dɪˈsendənt] n.
    A direct relative in a later generation (such as one’s son, daughter, or grandchild)
    Billy Sobieski claimed to be a descendant of Jan Sobieski, a former king of Poland.
    Usage tips     Descendant is often followed by an of phrase.
    Parts of speech     descend v., descent n.
  • inheritance [ɪnˈherɪtəns] n.
    Things passed down to you from your ancestors
    My inheritance from my grandmother included her favorite necklace.
    Parts of speech     inherit v., inheritor n.
  • kin [kɪn] n.
    Relatives
    Even though my uncle didn’t really like me, he was kind to me because we were kin.
    Usage tips     A common phrase is next of kin, meaning “closest relative.”
    Parts of speech     kinship n.
  • legitimate [lɪˈdʒɪtɪmɪt] adj.
    True and respectable; in the context of family, born of a mother and father who were married to each other
    You can skip the meeting if you have a legitimate reason.
    Usage tips     The opposite of legitimate is illegitimate.
    Parts of speech     legitimize v., legitimacy n.
  • paternal [pəˈtəːnl] adj.
    Relating to a father
    My mother’s parents have both died, but my paternal grandparents are still alive.
    Usage tips     Paternal may appear with maternal, meaning “relating to a mother.”
  • proximity [prɒkˈsɪmɪtɪ] n.
    Nearness
    The house was comfortable, except for its proximity to a busy road.
    Usage tips     Proximity can be followed by an of phrase or a to phrase.
    Parts of speech     proximate adj.
  • sentiment [ˈsentɪmənt] n.
    Feelings; opinion based on feelings
    I share your sentiments about air travel, but I disagree that cars are safer.
    Usage tips     Sentiments (the plural) is more common than sentiment.
    Parts of speech     sentimentality n., sentimental adj.
  • sibling [ˈsɪblɪŋ] n.
    Brother or sister
    My siblings and I got together to buy our parents a gift for their anniversary.
    Usage tips     Sibling is often preceded by a possessive noun or pronoun.

TOEFL Prep I Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column. Write the letter in the blank.

______ 1. ancestral(a) fatherly
______ 2. descendants(b) children, grandchildren, etc.
______ 3. legitimate(c) what one thinks or feels
______ 4. paternal(d) acceptable and right
______ 5. sentiments(e) related to earlier generations

TOEFL Prep II Complete each sentence by filling in the blank with the best word from the list. Change the form of the word if necessary. Use each word only once.

  • cohesion
  • inheritance
  • kin
  • proximity
  • siblings
  1. You can’t expect to have family __________ if the members don’t respect each other.
  2. In our family, the __________ who are closest in age get along the best.
  3. If someone dies without a will, the possessions usually go to the next of __________.
  4. Medical bills in his last year greatly reduced the __________ going to Tom’s wife.
  5. Legally, parents have the same __________ of relationship to an adopted child as to their biological children.
Answer Key
TOEFL Prep I
  1. e
  2. b
  3. d
  4. a
  5. c
TOEFL Prep II
  1. cohesion
  2. siblings
  3. kin
  4. inheritance
  5. proximity
Answer Key

TOEFL Success Read the passage to review the vocabulary you have learned. Answer the questions that follow.

The nature of the family varies widely from culture to culture. In some societies, family members tend to stay in close proximity to their kin, never moving more than a few miles away from the ancestral home. In other places, while the members of one generation may all live near one another, their descendants in the next generation scatter widely. In such a case, it’s difficult to maintain the same family cohesion enjoyed by those who live close together. Sometimes marriage can govern family structure; for example, there may be strict traditions requiring a new bride to leave her paternal home and siblings to move in with her new husband’s family. Such traditions are followed, even by young couples who don’t like them, because going against them is likely to result in the loss of inheritance. Whatever one’s own sentiments about family structure, it is important to recognize that one culture’s family system is as legitimate as another’s.

  1. Which of the following best states the main idea of this passage?
    • a. Different family systems can be found worldwide, but each one deserves respect.
    • b. Societies in which children move far away from their parents are not very cohesive.
    • c. Although some societies still require a wife to move in with her husband’s family,this tradition is dying out.
    • d. The most important factor in family happiness is close proximity to your relatives.
  2. According to this reading, which family system is most common?
    • a. Members of a family living in the same community.
    • b. Family members spreading out and living in various cities.
    • c. Young couples living with the man’s parents.
    • d. It is impossible to tell from this reading.
Answer Key
Answer Key
  1. a
  2. d
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