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Y-DNA Matches Frequently Asked Questions

How is Genetic Distance calculated? 

Are all of my Y-DNA matches in the database shown?

The Y-DNA Matches page shows your relevant matches in the database who have signed the release form. There are several cases where some matches in the customer database will not be included on your match list. They are:

  • For the Y-DNA12 testing level, 11 out of 12 matches are shown only when both you and your match belong to the same group project.*
  • If you have chosen to match only against those in your group projects on the Account Settings page of your account, your contact information will only be shown to those in your projects.
  • If your match has chosen to match only against the group project on the Account Settings page of their account, their contact information will be shown only to those who belong to one of their group projects.
  • If you have chosen to turn off matching at a specific testing level (Y-12, Y-7, etc.), your contact information will not be shown to matches at that level.

* To best serve our customers who are adopted, we provide at the Y-12 level both 11/12 and 12/12 matching to the entire FamilyTreeDNA database to those in the Adoptee Project. This is because they cannot know the best Surname project to join in advance of testing.

Are only exact matches shown?

On the Y-DNA Matches page, relevant matches are shown. Depending on the testing level, these are:

Y-12 Matches

  • 11 out of 12 (A genetic distance of 1)*
  • 12 out of 12 (A genetic distance of 0)

Y-25 Matches

  • 23 out of 25 (A genetic distance of 2)
  • 24 out of 25 (A genetic distance of 1)
  • 25 out of 25 (A genetic distance of 0)

Y-37 Matches

  • 33 out of 37 (A genetic distance of 4)
  • 34 out of 37 (A genetic distance of 3)
  • 35 out of 37 (A genetic distance of 2)
  • 36 out of 37 (A genetic distance of 1)
  • 37 out of 37 (A genetic distance of 0)

Y-67 Matches

  • 60 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 7)
  • 61 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 6)
  • 62 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 5)
  • 63 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 4)
  • 64 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 3)
  • 65 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 2)
  • 66 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 1)
  • 67 out of 67 (A genetic distance of 0)

Y-111 Matches

  • 101 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 10)
  • 102 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 9)
  • 103 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 8)
  • 104 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 7)
  • 105 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 6)
  • 106 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 5)
  • 107 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 4)
  • 108 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 3)
  • 109 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 2)
  • 110 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 1)
  • 111 out of 111 (A genetic distance of 0)

* For Y-12 matches, 11 out of 12 matches are only shown with both customers belong to the same group project. However, to best serve our customers who are adopted, we provide at the Y-12 level both 11/12 and 12/12 matching to the entire FamilyTreeDNA database to those in the Adoptee Project. This is because they cannot know the best Surname project to join in advance of testing.

Should I contact my matches? 

Yes, you should contact your matches. Once you have Y-DNA test results, contacting your matches is the next step in using your DNA for genealogy. If you share a surname or match at 37 or 67 markers then your combined research efforts may lead to new genealogical discoveries.

Why do I match men with different surnames?

There are two reasons you may have a Y-DNA match with someone with a different surname. It may be that your connection is from a time before surnames were in common use. This is especially likely for groups where surnames were often not adopted until the most recent 100 to 200 years, for example, Scandinavians and Jewish populations. Another reason for surnames not to match is that there has been a surname change in genealogical times. That could be in either your match's or your own line.

The main place that you will see matches with many different surnames is the Y-12 marker matches section. The time to a common ancestor for these matches may extend beyond genealogical records and the adoption of surnames.

If you continue to match others outside your surname at the Y-37, Y-67, and Y-111 marker levels, then there is likely to have been a surname change within the genealogical time frame. Common causes for this include deliberate name changes and adoptions. For those matches at a higher number of markers (Y-37, Y-67, and Y-111), contacting your matches is the best way to learn more.

Why do I match men with a surname from my mother’s side?

As the Y chromosome is inherited exclusively from one's father, matching men with a Y-DNA test who share your mother's maiden name or another surname from her lineage may be a coincidence. However, should you continue to match these men at higher levels of testing (Y-37, Y-67, and Y-111) then you may wish to investigate the possibility of an adoption or name change in your family.

I match men with the same surname as mine. What does that mean?

When you match men with the same surname as yours (or a variant) on a Y-DNA test, it means that you have potentially genealogically relevant matches. The best way to find out more is to contact your matches.

Why do I have so many Y-DNA matches?

Having many Y-DNA matches means you have a more common Y-DNA signature (haplotype). This can mean that your lineage has survived and reproduced well. As a result, many people share the same signature. Testing additional markers (Y-37, Y-67, or Y-111) will refine your list of matches to those that are genealogically relevant, meaning those with whom you share a common ancestor in 1 to 15 generations.

Why don't I have any Y-DNA matches?

If you do not have Y-DNA matches, you may be the first person with your Y-DNA signature (haplotype) in our database. This means that no one else from your lineage has tested. As the database grows, you will continue to be compared against new results, and you will be notified by email of any new matches.

 

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