What are some practices to write about paternal, maternal grandparents, especially when their names are not used? In my case, the names are not given. One method I am considering is "p-grandfather", "m-grandmother"... etc, but I don't like it so much. Use sub script? grandfatherp? grandfatherm?

If I had a few paragraphs about my paternal family, would it be ok to use "my paternal grandfather" and "my paternal grandmother" when I first talk about them, then afterward use just "grandfather", "grandmother"? And following those paragraphs, I would introduce my maternal family, and use "my maternal grandfather" and "my maternal grandmother" when I first talk about them, then afterward use just "grandfather", "grandmother"?

How about in writings where there are interactions between these grandparents?

I am translating a memoir from Vietnamese to English.

Thank you.


2 Answers 2


Are they all interacting together? In that case you might want to make a naming distinction (for example, dad-sided grandparents are called Gran and Gramps, and mom-side grandparents Grandma and Grandpa).

If it's just one pair at the time, you might want to introduce them as "My mother's/father's parents", and then stick to the usual names. Putting indexes would be quite strange in a written work, then again, it depends on what you're working on.

Also, consider simply using their names.


There are a few ways you can achieve that, mostly they are the ways that we understand those relationships in the world.

Firstly, it will depend on who is interacting with them. If it is maternal grandparents and the mother is talking, then 'mum' and 'dad' will show who it is.

If it is the father interacting then he could call them by their first name, and perhaps have a different relationship than he has elsewhere - so more friendly / formal / whatever fits.

If it is from the grandchild's perspective, then it can be grandpa Bob, grandma Grace etc.

Personally I wouldn't include an overt introduction to who they are, it should be something that is naturally carried through the story. Grandpa Bob being called dad immediately puts the whole generation into perspective. From there it is very easy to connect bob to grace, and people generally know how grandparents work well enough to be able to figure who the other two are ;)

Most importantly, make a choice and stick to it, let the reader see how you reference them and they won't think about the connections, they'll just know they're there. Start interfering with the story and pointing fingers at who's who and it will feel awkward and annoying.

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