'My family is very united' Vs 'my family is very close-knit'

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Xavier da Silva, May 3, 2012.

  1. Xavier da Silva Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hello everyone,

    What is the difference between:

    a. My family is very united.
    b. My family is very close-knit.

    United means: in agreement and working together.
    Close-knit means: having a close realationship.

    Could you help me with more definitions?

    *The dictionaries I looked it up in didn't say much.

    Thank you in advance!
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    You can have a very close-knit relationship without being in agreement. :) To me, that's the primary difference. A close-knit family, to me, is full of people who are involved in each other's lives, who are aware of small and large events in each other's lives and are very supportive of each other in times of trouble. They may disagree about everything but still be very close-knit.
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would only use "My family is united" if the context made it very clear what we were united about.

    I would not use "My family is very united". To me, a family is either united or it isn't.
    "Very united" has no specific meaning, unless you choose to use "united" as a synonym of "close-knit". I wouldn't.
  4. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Just one question: if we skip the : "-knit" part, saying our family is really close, would that be acceptable? Thank you all for your insights. M&L
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    It sounds perfectly normal in American English: "My family is very close." It's a little ambiguous, depending on context. It could mean that they are nearby or that they are close-knit. I would expect to hear "My family is very close", though, before I heard "My family is very close-knit".
  6. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Thank you James, that's exactly what I wanted to know. By the way, the possible ambiguity aspect is something interesting - I didn't really think of that problem, but having read your post, it does make a lot of sense. Thank you. ;) M&L
  7. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Just one more problem - the feeling of these statements (my opinion):
    My family is very united. - formal, cold, a bit factual...
    My family is very close-knit. - sophisticated, legal, tricky or something in that manner.
    My family is very close. - colloquial, warm and cool.
    Thank you.
  8. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    I agree with Panj, but
    is something you'll hear a lot from native Spanish speakers because the normal word in Spanish is "<<Spanish deleted>>." Is it the same in Portuguese?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2012
  9. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In AE as in BE, "very united" would not be used; a family (or, for that matter, a political party or any group) either is united or it isn't; there aren't degrees of being united. But that's not the word you want in describing relationships within the family. For that, I think close works very well.
  10. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    SW London
    British English
    If I heard "my family is united" I would be puzzled and I'd ask what they are "united" about. It isn't idomatic. Mike, your feelings about the options are not accurate.

  11. MikeLynn

    MikeLynn Senior Member

    Thank you everybody, and Hermione - I'll work on it and try to find some examples in context :) M
  12. Xavier da Silva Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Excellent answers!

    Now, it's clear to me!

    God Bless,

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