One of my friends keeps calling the son of the sister of her husband her "husband's nephew".

This is correct but it seems rude to me. It sounds like she is trying to put some distance between her and that teenage boy. She is Korean and in Korea has lots of words to describe the exact relation between people, so I guess she does it by habits. She s actually quite fond of the boy and they meet regularly.

It sounds wrong to me. If the husband of my aunt (my mother's sister) was speaking about me as "his wife's nephew", instead of "my nephew", I would feel offended. I am French so not a native English speaker but I believe we have the same cultural norms on that point.

Is calling your husband's nephew that way, instead of "my nephew", considered as rude ?

Note: this happens in casual situations, not when blood relations would actually matter (genetics, inheritance,...)

  • Your question, at least for me, is very hard to understand. Can you please make up fake names and edit your question.
    – AIQ
    Nov 1, 2019 at 3:43
  • As a starting point, the boy is not your friend's nephew any more than her husband's brother would be her brother rather than her brother-in-law. The defining characteristic of cousins in general (including nephews and nieces as "first cousins once-removed" is to have an ancestor in common however far back that might be. It is about the blood relationship. Nov 1, 2019 at 21:14

2 Answers 2


You are quite right - the child is her nephew as well, not just her husbands. The man that marries your aunt is your uncle. The woman that marries your uncle is your aunt!

What I have found is that people often view those family connections differently depending on when they married. If I can relate a personal example - my mother has a sister, my aunt, who cared for me a lot when I was a child. I always called her my aunt, and her husband my uncle. By contrast, my mother's brother (my uncle and a blood-relative) married very late on in life. The woman he married became my aunt, but because she had not been around when I was a child, I never viewed her as such. I had no problem with her, I just didn't feel comfortable calling her my aunt, I always referred to her by name, or as "my uncle's wife". Similarly, when I married, my wife already had several nephews and nieces. I get on great with them, but it came up in conversation recently that they didn't realise I was their uncle - they just thought of me as their aunt's husband! I don't mind that - the relationship is what counts to me, not what they want to call me (they call me by name and I'm fine with that).

If there are other reasons for you to think that the lady in question feels distant to her nephew then you might be right, but it may not have occurred to her that the child is her nephew too, especially if she spent some time getting to know her husband's family before they married, ie during a courtship. She only became the child's aunt at marriage.


Your spouse's nephew could be called "my nephew" in English, but I don't see "my husband's nephew" as particularly rude or insulting, just slightly clearer at the cost of being longer. One has a slightly different relationship with your own sister's children to that with your sister-in-law's children.

I see this as no ruder than someone who (for whatever reason) always says "maternal uncle" or "younger brother". In English we don't need to qualify a brother as older or younger, but it's not rude to do so, just slightly unidiomatic if you always do it.

If she were my friend, I'd see no reason to correct her. Her English is not "wrong", nor "insulting".

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