Many people wonder how people know other people who are related to them, but are unsure how or, at least, how to talk about them. Here is a handy chart that may help you label your relatives accurately.

The basics are pretty simple:

  • Siblings (brothers and sisters) share parents
  • First cousins share grandparents
  • Second cousins share great-grandparents
  • Third cousins share 2x-great-grandparents
  • and so on…

The term “once removed” means separated by one generation, so your father’s first cousin is your first cousin once removed (their grandmother is your great-grandmother). But your father’s first cousin’s child is your second cousin (that same woman is great-grandmother to both of you).

In this diagram, you are are always represented by the block labeled “You”. Note that some people say “grand-uncle” or “grand-niece” instead of “great-uncle” or “great-niece”. Both are correct.