I know that there is no adjective form for business, if I wanted to say that I live in a family whose traditional job is business. which of the following sentence would be correct?

1- I was born and have been living all my life in a business family.

2- I was born and have been living all my life in a business class family.

  • 1
    #1 is better, but I'd use present perfect simple (have lived) with "all my life" Business class family also sounds like you have expensive taste in airline tickets.Otherwise Andrew has explained it well.
    – Matt
    Jan 2, 2019 at 18:21
  • 2
    The single-word form in He's a businessman is fine, but I don't much like the adjectival usage a business family - I'd rather see something more explicit, such as a business-oriented family. And business class family just sounds like a clumsy form based on usages like a working-class family. Jan 2, 2019 at 18:24
  • 3
    To my BrE ears, "a business class family" sounds like a family that's sufficiently wealthy to afford "business class" airline tickets. Which is not to be sniffed at, but is not what you're attempting to say. Jan 2, 2019 at 18:34
  • It's unclear to me whether you are interested in identifying the family's occupation or its social standing. If the former, as Andrew notes, one would likely indicate the type of business, or the industry. If the latter, however, there are a number of different terms with different connotations, such as being in the merchant class or mercantile class (as distinguished from the workers and the landowners) or the bourgeoisie (a borrowing from French and popularized in Marxist literature, and thus frequently disparaging).
    – choster
    Jan 2, 2019 at 23:30

2 Answers 2


It is possible to talk about the "family business" in a generic way:

I grew up working in the family business

However, "business" by itself is often too ambiguous to tell the reader anything interesting about your family. Instead, it's natural to be specific about the kind of business your family does. Some examples:

Our family business is textiles.

Our family has a large share of the textile market.

Our family is big in textiles.

You can substitute whatever details are appropriate:

I grew up in a family whose business was making shoes / selling cars / international finance / technology / shipping and trade / etc.

Side note: I use "was" to talk about the family business rather than "is". This should not be interpreted to mean that the family is now "out of business". It simply refers to the past time period "when I was growing up". The family business could be doing just fine.

If you want to be clear that the family is still in the same business, you can instead use "is"

I grew up in a family whose business is making shoes

[Edit] The expression "business class" is not used outside of travel. If you mean to distinguish your family as something other than "working class", then the only distinction in common use is "upper class". Many upper class families own one or more businesses as their source of income, but it's their wealth that makes them upper class.

If you want to refer to the social class of people who own businesses (in something like an economic or political treatise) then there is the term bourgeoisie, borrowed from the French, which can specifically refer to the class of society which owns the means of production. It is not, however, normally perceived as a complimentary term.

  • A family business is a specific company that's owned and primarily operated by members of a single family. A business family is a family whose members are mostly in business, but they don't have to be in the same company.
    – Barmar
    Jan 2, 2019 at 22:34
  • @Barmar I searched and found a very few references that use the phrase "business family", but in each the reference defined it to have a particular meaning distinct from "family business". In my opinion, without explanation, it has no special meaning -- much like "business" itself, which is essentially meaningless until defined.
    – Andrew
    Jan 3, 2019 at 0:18
  • That's true -- business is so general that the idea of a "business family" is unlikely. Contrast it with farming family, police family, medical family: these are relatively specific, and it's common for children to follow their parents' footsteps in them.
    – Barmar
    Jan 3, 2019 at 0:37
  • OTOH, the Trumps could be considered a business family.
    – Barmar
    Jan 3, 2019 at 0:38

If I captured your intent, I would say "a business-oriented family" or 'family of business-people."

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