top of page

TOEFL Preparation: Lesson 32 - Family Relationships

Target Words 1. ancestral 2. cohesion 3. descendant

4. inheritance

5. kin 6. legitimate

7. paternal

8. proximity

9. sentiment 10. sibling

Definitions and Samples

1. ancestral adj. Relating to family members from earlier generations Sweden is my ancestral homeland, from which my great-grandfather emigrated in 1922. Parts of speech ancestor n, ancestry n

2. cohesion 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

3. descendant 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

4. inheritance 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

5. kin 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

6. legitimate 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. Harcourt had two legitimate children with his wife Hannah and one illegitimate son with a woman whom he met while traveling.

Usage tips The opposite of legitimate is illegitimate. Parts of speech legitimize v, legitimacy n

7. paternal 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.”

8. proximity 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

9. sentiment 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

10. sibling 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.


Find the word or phrase that is closest in meaning to each word in the left-hand column.

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.

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?

  2. Different family systems can be found worldwide, but each one deserves respect.

  3. Societies in which children move far away from their parents are not very cohesive.

  4. Although some societies still require a wife to move in with her husband’s family, this tradition is dying out.

  5. 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.

18 views0 comments
bottom of page