Happy families

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Happy families is a card game for 3 or more players in which players take turns to ask one other player for a card which they think they have in order to collect families of four. The game requires a good memory and simple deduction skills, and appeals to adults and young learners alike. It is useful in the language classroom for practicing various language areas as functions of requesting, accepting and refusing; formal and informal register; auxiliary verbs; question forms; tag questions and vocabulary. For example, players might use the any of he following structures when requesting a card form another player:

  • "Have you got...? / Do you have..?" (auxiliary verbs / question forms)
  • "You have..., don't you? / You've got..., haven't you?" (tag questions and intonation)
  • "Can/could you give me...?" (informal requests)
  • "You don't happen to have...., do you? / Do you mind giving me ....?" (formal requests)


Although the commercial card game is packaged and possibly expensive to buy, happy families can be played with a cheap deck of cards with the added language benefit of drilling the common lexical pattern of article + noun + preposition + noun as shown in the following table:

article noun preposition noun
the queen of spades
the king of hearts
a cup of tea
a piece of my mind
the capital of Egypt


See also[edit]

Negotiator game

External links[edit]