Vocabulary Spotlight on: Relationships

1. Dating

Usually, the 1st step in a relationship is going out on a date with someone. Here are some verb phrases you can use to talk about a date:

to go on a date (with someone)

I went out on a date with him once. It was kind of boring.


to have a date (with someone)

I have a date with Jamie tonight! We’re going out for dinner and then to a movie.


to go out (with someone)*

I’m going out with Fred tonight. We’re going to the U2 concert.


In the above verb phrases, date is used as a noun. In this case, with is used to indicate that there is someone else on the date too. However, when you want to talk about how long you have been in a relationship with someone, date is used as a verb. With is NOT used with the verb date.

to date (someone)

I’ve been dating him for 4 months.
X: I’ve been dating with him for 4 months.

She’s dating Ken.

I’m dating an incredible guy right now!

I’m tired of dating losers – I want a real man!


*To go out (with someone) can be an ambiguous phrase. It could mean …
– you are spending time with friends:

I’m going out with the girls tonight!

– you are on a date with someone:

I’m going out with Adam tonight. It’s our first date!

– you have been in a relationship with someone for a long time:

I’ve been going out with him for 2 ½ years.


2. Marriage

When two people decide to get married, the man usually proposes to the woman, and asks “Will you marry me?”

After the proposal but before the wedding, the couple is engaged. They are engaged to be married.

They are engaged! They got engaged last month.

They plan to marry next month.

I intend to marry my current boyfriend.


The verb phrase to get married (to someone) is used to refer to the actual day of the wedding or the act of getting married.

They’re getting married on June 16th.

I really want to get married and have a family.

We got married when we were very young.

We got married on May 5th.


After the wedding, you can use be married (to someone):

We were married on May 5th.

I am married.

We are married.

She is married to Jim.


In ALL of the above sentences, with is NOT used with marry or married. This is a common mistake that English learners make.

Jim is my uncle. He’s married to Samantha.
X: Jim is my uncle. He’s married with Samantha.


3. The End of a Relationship

Not all relationships end in marriage. Often couples break up. Sometimes the break-up is easy, sometimes it’s heart-breaking.

It was not an easy break-up.

Did you hear that Jane and Kevin broke up last week?


Sometimes it takes people a long time to get over a break-up. They feel sad that the relationship is over, and it will take them awhile to feel better about it.

I’m still getting over Sam.

I’m still getting over my last boyfriend.

I’m still getting over my break-up with Sam.

You can refer to the person as your ex-girlfriend, or your ex-boyfriend, or just your ex.


Sadly, not all marriages last forever, either. Sometimes couples will separate. They don’t want to live together anymore, but they don’t want to get divorced yet.

We are separated. We’re working through our marital problems.

We’re not divorced yet. We’re just separated.


You can be divorced, you can divorce (someone), or you can get a divorce (from someone):

I want a divorce!

It’s just not working out. We’re getting a divorce.

I was married for 10 years, but now I’m divorced.

He and his wife divorced 5 years ago.


After the divorce, you can refer to the person as your ex-husband or ex-wife, or just your ex.


5 Comments on Vocabulary Spotlight on: Relationships

  1. Andrew
    June 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Melanie!
    Is there any word describing a couple living together as a wife and a husband, probably having children and common property but still being officially not married?

    • Melanie
      June 11, 2012 at 9:36 pm (4 years ago)

      Good question!

      It’s called a “common-law” marriage. In Canada, if a couple has been living together for more than 2 years, they are considered common-law husband & wife.

      = )

  2. Villy
    January 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Melanie! I am a great fun of you. I would like to suggest one more expression regarding the end of relationship. I recently came across to the phrase : We are through.

    • Melanie
      January 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Villy,

      Well, that’s not a great way to end a relationship! You can say “We are through!” to someone, but this is very mean. It is not a nice way to end a relationship. Usually someone says this when they are very angry.

  3. Bienné Joseph
    March 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Teacher Melanie,

    I miss words to tell you how much I am very proud of you.
    May God bless you for your help!