Relation also describes the link between people, groups
or countries and the way they behave towards each other. In this
sense there is very little difference between relations and relationship.
For instance, we could also say:
- Relations between (the leaders of) the two
countries have never been closer.
Most of the differences are context specific in this sense. For
example, we talk about diplomatic relations and race relations,
not diplomatic relationships or race relationships:
- Diplomatic relations between the two countries
were broken off over this incident and their ambassadors were
- The need to improve race relations in Inner London
boroughs is of paramount importance.
Your relations are also members of your family:
- I invited all my friends and relations to my twenty-first
- Mark Totterdale and Simon Totterdale (no relation)
are both head teachers in Bristol.
Your blood relations are the people who are related
to you by birth, not through marriage. If you say that they are
your own flesh and blood, you are emphasizing that they are
members of your own family:
- He's my own flesh and blood. I can't leave him to
fend for himself when he needs my help.