How Are We Related? Navigating the Terminology
Relationship terminology can be confusing, but we’ve compiled a guide to explain how you are related to that cousin three times removed.
That’s a question that we have been asked quite a bit lately, and sometimes determining that exact familial connection with someone else can be confusing.
- What is the difference between a second cousin and a first cousin, once removed?
- What does the “removed” mean, anyway?
- If my mom has a cousin, how is he related to me?
- Is my grandfather’s sister my great-aunt, or my grand-aunt?
If you have ever felt confusion over these terms, you are not alone!
Most of us know that our parents’ siblings’ children are our first cousins, and that our parents’ siblings themselves are our aunts and uncles. That’s easy enough to understand. It’s when you get to more distant connections that it becomes confusing.
If you share the same grandparents, there is no difference in the generations, so you are first cousins. If you share the same great-grandparents, you are second cousins. If you share the same great-great-grandparents you are third cousins, and so on.
However, if your grandparents are someone else’s great-grandparents, then you are first cousins once removed, because there is a generational gap between you. The thing to remember is that the “removed” is used when you and your relative are of different generations. For instance, you and your cousin’s child, or you and your father’s cousin are of different generations, so there is going to be a “removed” in a description of your relationship.
The numerical value, “once removed” or “three times removed,” counts back how many generations you have to go to find the common ancestor between you and that other relative.
For example, if your first cousin has children, those children are your first cousins once removed, because your grandparents are their great-grandparents (just one generation). If those children then have children, they are your first cousins twice removed, because your grandparents are their great-great-grandparents (which is two generations).
Similarly, your mom’s cousin is your first cousin once removed, because his grandparents are your great-grandparents. There is a generational difference. However, your mom’s cousin’s CHILD is your second cousin with no “removed” added, because the two of you share the same great-grandparents. There is no generational difference between the two of you, so there is no “remove.”
With regards to the difference between great-aunt, grand-aunt, etc. – this one is up to you! They’re just different terms that mean the same thing. The siblings of your grandparents can be called either your great-aunts and great-uncles, or your grand-aunts and grand-uncles.
The following chart may be helpful:
The following DNA & Relationship Quick Reference Chart also helps identify the % of shared DNA between you and other relatives. Get your free pdf version here.
Looking to discover some of those great-great-grandparents? Trying to find out who your third cousin twice removed married? Wondering how your family is related to someone who shares your name? Legacy Tree Genealogists would be happy to help you discover the people you are related to and help you determine how you are related to them! Contact us to discuss your goals and get started!