Hello,
I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I understand 'family' in sentences is the same as the way people here use it. My assumptions (understanding) and questions.

When I say family, I normally mean to say - one's wife and kids. I do not include parents (, brothers and sisters). For example - When I ask, "Do you stay with your family", I mean to inquire if one stays with his wife and kids. On the other hand, if I wanted to know if one stayed with his parents, I would ask, "Do you stay with your parents", even if I knew that the other guy was not married. Am I correct in my usage?

Also, if you knew that the other guy was not married, would you ask, "are you traveling to your family", or, "are you traveling to your parents"? Is the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

Thanks,
Pradip
1 2 3
I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I understand ... with your parents", even if I knew that the other guy was not married. Am I correct in my usage?

"Family" is, indeed, ambiguous, and may be used (in BrE at any rate) to mean spouse/kids, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts & uncles, cousins, or any combination thereof, pretty much interchangeably.

Which is why your more precise phrasing of the question is very wise - it's no more "correct" than saying just "family", but it's more likely to yield an unambiguous response.
Also, if you knew that the other guy was not married, would you ask, "are you traveling to your family", ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

Correct, and common, but (as above) ambiguous. Your usage is better.

Mike M
Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
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Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
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Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
Hello, I have been staying in Germany for the last few months. I am not sure if the way I ... the first form of questioning appropriate? Is it common? Would the first form of questioning be correct in written English?

'family' means different things at different times to different people. For some 'family' includes everyone they are related to. To others, partner and children. Often the term 'immediate family' is used to indicate those with the closest relationship. If someone told me 'I live with my family' I wouldn't know what, exactly, they meant though I'd have an idea of the possibilities. Similarly, if someone said 'My family lives in Manchester' that would be unclear. 'My family comes from Manchester' is clearer.
If an unmarried person is going to visit their family it might well signify parents. Though others might not regard it as completely 'family' unless siblings were present too. And if it's the 'whole family' then there are likely to be cousins of various degrees. Safer, I think, to avoid 'family' until you and the other person have a clear understanding. What's wrong with saying 'wife and children', 'parents' or whatever?

John Dean
Oxford
As others on this thread have noted, "family" can be used in a broad or a narrow sense, and you may have to use more words if you want to be precise. I just want to add two notes.
Sociologists have a technical term, "nuclear family", for the unit consisting just of a husband, a wife, and their children living together. In the U.S., at any rate, that term is fairly widely known among educated people and is sometimes used even in conversation when precision is needed.
There is a special idiom in which "family" is used without an article or possessive, in a wide sense. For example, at a conference you might hear:
"Are you staying in this hotel?"
"No, I am staying with family."
That could mean a brother, an uncle & aunt, etc. I suspect that that is U.S. only, and it may be a translated Yiddish idiom.
Joe Fineman (Email Removed)
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