How to Talk About Our Moms (and Dads)

Mothers day mom daughter parentsThe third weekend in May celebrates mothers, and the third weekend in June celebrates fathers.  To honor our parents, let’s look at vocabulary specifically related to parenting.

First, our mothers and fathers raise us or bring us up.

This means they help us grow by giving us everything we need: food, shelter, education, and love and attention.

Notice how bring (…) up is a phrasal verb that can be separated by its object.  We can say:

Parents bring up children.

Parents bring children up.

Parents bring them up.

(We can’t put a pronoun after the phrasal verb: *Parents bring up them.)

Arrive Late moms parents                       vs.                       Bad example mom daughter parents

We can be raised strictly or leniently.

If we have strict parents, they make us follow many rules.  Probably, they are very traditional.  If we have lenient parents, our parents don’t make us follow many rules.  We have a lot of freedom.  Were you brought up strictly or leniently?  Which do you think is better?

English learners often confuse bring up, grow up, and grow.

Mom and dad bring us up.  They do it to us.  We are brought up by them.

We grow up in a place and time.  Grow up means become adults.

For example:

Q:  Where did you grow up?

A:  I grew up in South Korea.

Q:  Where did you grow up?

A:  I grew up in the countryside.

Q:  When did you grow up?

A:  I grew up in the 90s.

In contrast, grow just means increase or get bigger.  For example:

Plants need light and water to grow.

I have grown since last summer.  I’m two inches taller.

The number of people who use Instagram has grown.

like father like son parentsAnother question people often ask when talking about parents is:

Who do you take after—your mother or your father?

Who are you more like—your mom or your dad?

Take after and be like mean be similar to or resemble.

I am more like my mom in appearance and temperament.  My looks and behavior are similar to hers.  I take after my father, however, in the way my brain works.  I’m good at languages, and he is, too.  Who do you take after?

We can also talk about admiring our parents.  We admire people who we respect and want to imitate.  These people become our role models.  If we are lucky, our parents are our first role models.  Maybe we admire our parents for how hard-working they are.  Perhaps they sacrificed a lot so we could have good lives.  Perhaps they are our role models professionally.  They have jobs or talents that we respect.  Do you admire your parents?  Why?  Are your parents your role models?  How?

As a way to practice your English this season of celebrating mothers and fathers, why don’t you write your mom and your dad each a letter describing what you admire about how you were raised.  Talk about the ways you are like each other. 

See how our students at PELA are talking about their Moms here.