Someone told me that we can't use brother or sister with cousin. Please check the examples and let me know which one is correct?

  1. My cousin brother asked me to come with him
  2. My cousin asked me to come with him

Which one is correct?

  • 3
    You are expected to explain what you intend to express. Do you mean first cousins? In English, first cousins are not called brother-cousins / cousin-brothers. Generally, they're simply called cousins, unless you need to specify first, second, etc. – Em. Dec 31 '16 at 10:04

A quick search online shows that 'cousin brother' and 'cousin sister' are used in parts of India to mean 'male cousin' and 'female cousin'. This is not standard English, and will confuse almost everyone. Say 'cousin'. If you have to, or want to, make it clear that your cousin is male, say 'male cousin' (even that sounds strange), say his name (but that only works if your cousin has a typical male name) or say 'he' very soon afterwards.


Other than the missing possessive in #2 (My cousin's brother), Neither are incorrect, but it would be common practice to follow the path of least resistance when referring to family members. For example, 'my cousin's brother' is also, by definition, my cousin, therefore I would refer to him as such. i.e.

My cousin asked me to come with him.

That being said, if I was speaking to a friend who was also very familiar with my cousin (perhaps we all share the same circle of friends), but not necessarily familiar with the rest of my cousin's family, including her brother, I might paint the picture more clearly by making the connections in the sentence. i.e.

My cousin's brother asked me to come with him.

  • Could be OP means "my cousin's brother-in-law". Who is, technically, still your cousin but they might have a different word for that relationship. – Andrew Dec 31 '16 at 7:56
  • @mike, I have the same comment as to Peter, you apparently misunderstood the question. It is not asking about "cousin's brother" but "cousin brother", which is something different, as explained in Sidney's answer. – wondering May 19 '17 at 8:53

My cousin brother asked me to come with him.

My cousin asked me to come with him.

The latter is more approriate and idiomatic than the former.

The use of "brother" in the first sentence is redundant as the use of the pronoun "him" (for your cousin) indicates that you are talking about a male cousin.

You can use the phrases male cousin and female cousin in other types of sentences. For example:

I have three male cousins and two female cousins. The phrases cousin brother and cousin sister are common in India and Pakistan.

  • I would take that a step farther. It's not just a matter of idiom or appropriateness. "My cousin brother" is wrong, and is an expression that a native speaker will not understand (if the intent was to convey "male cousin" as your post and some others seem to suggest). – PMV Jan 1 '17 at 4:09

Cousin-Brother and Cousin-Sister are not as common in America to refer to ones male or female cousin, however they are correct proper to do so. We do this with my large family. In fact, we use cousin niece and cousin nephew to refer to our cousin's children. It's more friendly than saying Second Cousin who is female.

Example: Cousin Great Nephew is my cousin's child's son.

I just call them niece, nephew, brother, sister, etc, and drop the cousin word when making reference.


Grammatically, 'cousin brother' or 'cousin sister' is wrong. Because 'cousin' is a common gender.

We can make the gender clear by using pronouns like 'he', 'him', 'his', 'she', 'her'.

In your sentence, you need not write 'brother' because it is not only wrong but also redundant. Because the pronoun 'him' at the last of the sentence vividly expresses the masculine gender : My cousin (brother ✖) asked me to come with HIM.

In this way, pronouns can help to express gender : He is my cousin. She is my cousin. My cousin got married last year. He is very happy now. Or, we can mention the cousin's name to make the gender clear : My cousin Mary came yesterday. My cousin John came yesterday.

In Indian English, 'cousin brother' or 'cousin sister' is used informally in conversation, but that is not grammatically correct.

  • Welcome to ELL.SE, but I must downvote this answer. While cousin brother and cousin sister are not standard in US or UK English, they are common in Indian English and are not "ungrammatical" per se. Second, cousin is not a "common gender"; perhaps you intended to say the term is gender-neutral. As such, the answer does not contribute more than what Sydney and Khan already offered four years ago. I strongly encourage you to review the help center regarding strong answers, and what makes Stack Exchange different from other Q&A sites. – choster May 1 '20 at 21:03
  • In my humble opinion, 'cousin' is common gender. Because a cousin may be a brother or a sister. The expression "cousin-brother' or 'cousin-sister' is informal and used in Indian English, which I have already pointed out. Informal English, which is mostly used as spoken English, doesn't stick closely to conventional grammar, and hence sometimes 'ungrammatical'. – Sandip Kumar Mandal May 1 '20 at 21:30

Is this a trick question?

The reason you don't use "sister" or "brother" with "cousin" is because the "sister" or brother" would also be another cousin of yours.

If your cousin's brother or sister is a "half-" sibling (half-brother or half-sister), they would be your "half-cousin".

In your example, the second sentence is correct

My cousin asked me to come with him.

You can identify the different cousins either by their name or their brith order.

my cousin Bob
my cousin Mary
my older cousin
my younger cousin

  • 2
    you apparently misunderstood the question. It is not asking about "cousin's brother" but "cousin brother", which is something different, as explained in Sidney's answer. – wondering May 19 '17 at 8:51
  • I see, it's even a dialect usage, who would've known? – Peter May 19 '17 at 14:44
  • Yeah, I wouldn't have known without having lived in India, where this was definitely confusing me. So to your answer - no, it is not a trick question:-) – wondering May 19 '17 at 14:50
  • To me, it would make more sense to use brother cousin, but would one say to one's cousin brother: "Yo bro!"? – Peter May 19 '17 at 14:53

I was taught that saying cousin brother or sister is wrong, because your cousin can't still be your sister or brother as we all know that there's a big difference between both. Your sister or brother is someone from same parents, while cousins are your parents' siblings' children. If one wants to specify, one should rather say "female" or "male" cousin.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.