IELTS: Relatives, relatively speaking

17th February 2022

One perennial IELTS speaking topic, an old chestnut in fact, is family. You will, no doubt, encounter such questions as, “Who do you live with ?” or “Which member of your family do you feel closest to and why.”

So, continuing on from the pervious posting, here are some exercises designed to increase your speaking prowess, and boost your score.

To kick off, a recap of expressions:

a heart of gold // firm but fair // as good as gold

life and soul of the party // a little angel // is a good sport

he looks out for me // he has my back //

never has a bad word to say about anybody

On the other hand

a real tiger mum // is a bit of a wallflower

is a little devil // drinks like a fish

is a real prima donna // is very touchy

Exercise 1

Tell me about your mother, using a subordinate clause and at least one of the above expressions.

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Image from


My mother, who works as a medical secretary, has a heart of gold.

Exercise 2

Tell me about your father, brother, sister, grandmother and uncle. Make sure you use a subordinate clause for each person. Endeavour (try) to make longer, jaw-dropping sentences.

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Now, let’s kick it up a notch. Add at least one of the personality adjectives from below:

Personality adjectives:

aggressive / arrogant / calm / domineering /extrovert / fastidious / generous / honest / humorous / kind / mean / modest / outgoing / polite / quiet / reliable / rude / selfish / serious / thoughtless / trustworthy / unreliable

First, decide if these adjectives are positive or negative, then match with the expressions accordingly.


My mother, who is very fastidious, is a bit of a tiger mum. By that I mean she always wants me to pass every test with flying colours. However, I know, deep down, she wants what’s best for me, and that she has a heart of gold.

Image from

Exercise 3

Tell me about your family. You have to speak for two minutes, and tell me what the members look like, their personality, their occupation, and an anecdote about them.


My uncle Michael, who lives in Ha Noi where he works as a tour guide, is the life and soul of the party. He is so outgoing and a real extrovert. I recall one time he came to Sai Gon for Tet Holiday and he really enjoyed himself. To be honest, he drank like a fish, singing karaoke and dancing with everybody. My uncle, who is my mother’s brother, actually looks nothing like her as he is very tall and thin, and has a receding hairline.

Mens Receding Hairline Hair Cuts - of Baton Rouge : Salon  Hair Stylist
A receding hairline. Image from

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