How To Talk About Family In Italian

It’s all in la famiglia.
October 13, 2020
How To Talk About Family In Italian

Family is a pretty big deal in Italian culture. And that’s not to suggest that it’s not a big deal in every other culture. But in contrast to American norms, Italians stick very closer together. Though this is becoming more and more acceptable in the United States, it’s not uncommon at all for Italians to live with their parents until they’re in their late 20s. And don’t even go there when it comes to dissing someone’s ancestry unless you’re really looking for a fight. If you’re a student of the language, you won’t get very far without learning to name members of the family in Italian.

If you’re familiar with other Romance languages, then you’ll probably find this list fairly intuitive to navigate, but do note that most of these terms are fairly gendered, i.e. there are different ways to refer to your cousins depending on their gender.

One other special quirk to note: the word for grandson and nephew (and by extension, granddaughter and niece) are the same. Oh, and watch out with il fratellastro — this can mean both “half-brother” and “stepbrother” in English!

Here are some terms you’ll need to discuss family in Italian. Just click the play button to hear how they’re pronounced by a native speaker.

Essential Vocab For Family In Italian

the family — la famiglia

the relatives — i parenti

the extended family — i parenti lontani

the descendant — il discendente

the ancestor — l’antenato

the parents — i genitori

the mother — la madre

the father — il padre

the children — i figli

the daughter — la figlia

the son — il figlio

the brother — il fratello

the sister — la sorella

the siblings — i fratelli

the stepchild — il figliastro

half-brother — il fratellastro

the foster parents — i genitori affidatari

the guardian — il tutore

the grandmother — la nonna

the grandfather — il nonno

the grandson — il nipote

the granddaughter — la nipote

the nephew — il nipote

the niece — la nipote

the aunt — la zia

the uncle — lo zio

the cousin — il cugino (m.) / la cugina (f.)

the parents-in-law — i suoceri

the great-grandparents — i bisnonni

the second cousin — il cugino di secondo grado

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Steph Koyfman
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.

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