How To Talk About Family In Spanish

Love ’em or hate ’em, tu familia is here to stay.
December 6, 2019
How To Talk About Family In Spanish

The family — for better or for worse, it’s one of the core units of the human condition. For most people, their family members are the people who raised them, changed their diapers, wiped away their tears (if they weren’t causing them), and witnessed them at their absolute best and worst moments. Whatever your relationship with your family, you can’t escape them; that’s why if you’re studying Spanish, learning to talk about your family in Spanish is an invaluable skill.

Perhaps you’re going to live with a host family in the Spanish-speaking world, or maybe you’re on a date with a native Spanish speaker and your conversation has made it past the pleasantries and into the ins and outs of your personal lives. (You don’t even need to know someone well to start talking about your family; it can be a great way to engage in small talk — assuming it’s culturally appropriate to do so.)

Keep reading to find out all the expressions you need to know to talk about family in Spanish.

Terms For Talking About Family In Spanish

When you’re talking about family in Spanish, one important note to remember is that Spanish is a gendered language, meaning each noun is classified as either male or female. When you’re talking about family relationships in Spanish, you’re talking about people, so figuring out which gender to use is very straightforward; your sister is female (la hermana), and your brother is male (el hermano), for example. But when you’re talking about a group of people that includes males, Spanish defaults to the male gender, even if there’s only one male in the entire group. That means the word for “siblings” is los hermanos, unless the group of siblings is all female, in which case you’d use las hermanas. Same thing goes for los padres (“parents”), los hijos (“children”) and almost every other word on this list. It may be an antiquated linguistic rule that reinforces the patriarchy, but it’s the way Spanish speakers use their own language, so it’s worth remembering.

family — la familia

relatives — los parientes

immediate family — la familia directa

extended family — los parientes lejanos

mother — la madre

father — el padre

parents — los padres

sister — la hermana

brother — el hermano

siblings — los hermanos

daughter — la hija

son — el hijo

children — los hijos

grandmother — la abuela

grandfather — el abuelo

grandparents — los abuelos

granddaughter — la nieta

grandson — el nieto

grandchildren — los nietos

aunt — la tía

uncle — el tío

cousin (male) — el primo

cousin (female) — la prima

Learn a new language today.
Try Babbel
Author Headshot
David Doochin
David is a content producer for Babbel USA, where he writes for Babbel Magazine and oversees Babbel's presence on Quora. He’s a native of Nashville and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied linguistics and history. Before Babbel he worked at Quizlet and Atlas Obscura. A geek for grammar and an editorial enthusiast, he speaks Spanish (and dabbles in German, Dutch, Afrikaans and Italian). When he’s not curating his Instagram meme collection, you can find him spending too much money on food and exploring new cities around the world.
David is a content producer for Babbel USA, where he writes for Babbel Magazine and oversees Babbel's presence on Quora. He’s a native of Nashville and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied linguistics and history. Before Babbel he worked at Quizlet and Atlas Obscura. A geek for grammar and an editorial enthusiast, he speaks Spanish (and dabbles in German, Dutch, Afrikaans and Italian). When he’s not curating his Instagram meme collection, you can find him spending too much money on food and exploring new cities around the world.

Recommended Articles

A Family Affair: The Culture Of Kinship Around The World

A Family Affair: The Culture Of Kinship Around The World

There’s more than one species of family tree.
What Speakers Of Other Languages Call Their Fathers

What Speakers Of Other Languages Call Their Fathers

Move over, music and math. Dad jokes are definitely the world’s universal language.
Why Does ‘Mother’ Sound The Same In So Many Languages?

Why Does ‘Mother’ Sound The Same In So Many Languages?

The concept of “Mom” is universal — and, for the most part, so is the name we’ve given her. The reason is probably a lot simpler than you think.