“Family Affairs” Meaning and Use

“Family affairs” are events and news that relate to a family. Most of the time, it’s a benign way to quickly state what’s going on with our relatives. But it can also be a polite or sarcastic way to discuss unpleasant happenings in the family circle.

Family affairs can encompass a host of matters and goings-on. They include things like weddings, funerals, baptisms, graduations, and holidays. But, they can also indicate family feuds, arguments, or other complicated issues we don’t wish to discuss in detail.

In my experience, people use “family affairs” in a situation where they want to keep things private.


Please don’t talk about my relationships with my siblings. Those are family affairs.

The property and who inherits it is a family affair.

Defining Both “Family” and “Affairs”

To get a more nuanced understanding of what “family affairs” means, let’s define each term for its own merit. “Family” is a term used in human society to refer to a circle of people with whom we share either blood or a close affinity. “Affairs” are events, happenings, goings-on, or other matters.

In terms of English grammar, both are nouns. This means “family affairs” is technically a noun phrase. But, the –s at the end of “affair” makes the word plural. Ergo, it’s a plural noun phrase, but it can be singular: “family affair.” So, in this way “family affairs” refers to more than one event involving a group of people who share a close relationship.

It stands to note that “affair” can also refer to a sexual relationship outside of an established or committed partnership. Therefore, context is imperative to be as clear as possible when using “affair.”

Examples of “Family Affairs” in a Sentence

The best way to understand the use of “family affairs” is to study some examples. Say them aloud so you can galvanize the meaning and use them in your mind.

Seth is dealing with serious family affairs right now, he won’t be around for a while.

My family affairs involving the inheritance are none of your concern.

Family affairs like weddings and funerals always make Burt uncomfortable.

We’re doing the usual family affairs for Christmas: church, caroling, eating, opening gifts and then driving grandma to the airport.

Unfortunately, everyone knows the family affairs of the Smiths because they always fight and yell.


“Family affairs” is a simple plural noun phrase to describe the events and happenings of a group of people who are in close affinity to one another. It’s a quick and succinct way to be polite, sarcastic, or to sum up the subject of discussion.