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How to call your great aunt? For example, if the great aunt's name is Mari, is she called 'Great aunt Mari, or 'Aunt Mari' or just 'Mari'?

  • Sorry, but there is no definitive answer. You might call her any name or nickname you like or agree upon. Example: My husband's grandmother was called "Uhu", which bears absolutely no resemblance to her real name. VTC. – Stephie Apr 23 '15 at 9:43
  • You mean, even if you are not close to his grandmother, is it okay to just call her name/nickname? In my country, we only call Grandmother, so i am confused. – hayeonemily Apr 23 '15 at 9:48
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    @Stephie et al. - I'm firmly against the close vote. To the learner, "There is no definitive answer" can be a definitive (and helpful) answer. I don't think the question here is about nicknames, but about whether or not native English speakers feel that "great" needs to be said. – J.R. Apr 23 '15 at 9:52
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It often depends on the context.

If you asked me, "How are you related to Mari?" then, for the sake of precision, I would answer:

She is my great aunt.

However, in casual conversation, the great is often omitted, so I might say:

I need to leave work early today. My aunt Mari is coming to visit.

even though she's really my great aunt.

If I'm talking to people who already know that Mari is my aunt, the title is often omitted. So, for example, if I was talking to my mother on the phone, I could say:

Mari called me last week.

In other words, it's not considered improper to refer to her without the title of "aunt."

Through my childhood and into my adulthood, my cousins and I would omit the word "great" when talking about our great uncles. They were simply "Uncle Bobby" and "Uncle Jimmy."

Some families might change the convention to suit their needs, though. For example, suppose you had an uncle and a great uncle who were both named David. Your family might refer to them as "your uncle Dave" and "your great uncle Dave" just to avoid ambiguity.

  • Same -- I thought it was universal to use "Aunt (whatever)" as the polite form of address with a great aunt/uncle. I think we are both from the south though, so maybe not. – hunter Apr 23 '15 at 10:10
  • @hunter - If I was a learner and I'd watched five episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, I'd also be inclined to start assuming that we always preface an aunt's name with "Aunt". In reality, though, it varies, and depends on the local customs of the family and region. – J.R. Apr 23 '15 at 18:48

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