How To Talk About Family In Swedish

Well, you see, there’s your mormor, your farmor, and then there’s your farfar and your morfar.
January 13, 2021
How To Talk About Family In Swedish

There’s nothing like learning the names we give our family members to completely upend your expectations for how language is supposed to work. In English, there’s only one word for cousin. But study enough languages, and you’ll eventually find that it’s not uncommon to have to learn two words to indicate your cousin’s gender. If you study the vocabulary for family in Swedish, you’ll quickly find that the distinction between your maternal and paternal family lineages is extremely ingrained in the Swedish language — perhaps to a degree you’ve never had to think about as a native English speaker.

When it comes to grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews, there are different words for each depending on whether they fall on your mom’s side or your dad’s side (or your daughter’s, or your brother’s). Admittedly, this means you have more words to memorize, but there’s a logic to the nomenclature that will help you easily remember. For instance, the two words for grandson are sonson (lit. “son’s son”) and dotterson (lit. “daughter’s son”). Pretty straightforward, right?

Below, you’ll find our complete vocabulary guide for talking about family in Swedish. You can also hear how each word is pronounced by a native speaker by clicking the audio button.

Essential Vocab For Family In Swedish

a family — en familj

relatives — släktingar

extended family — avlägsna släktingar

ancestors — förfäder

a descendant — en ättling

parents — föräldrar

mother — mamma

father — pappa

children — barn

a daughter — en dotter

a son — en son

siblings — syskon

a brother — en bror

a sister — en syster

stepchild — ett styvbarn

half-brother — en halvbror

foster parents — fosterföräldrar

a guardian — en förmyndare

grandmother —  mormor, farmor (maternal, paternal)

grandfather — morfar, farfar (maternal, paternal)

grandson — sonson / dotterson (lit. son’s son / daughter’s son)

granddaughter — dotterdotter / sondotter (lit. daughter’s daughter / son’s daughter)

aunt — faster / moster (paternal / maternal)

uncle — morbror / farbror (maternal / paternal)

nephew — brorson / systerson (lit. brother’s son / sister’s son)

niece — systerdotter / brorsdotter (lit. sister’s daughter / brother’s daughter)

a cousin — en kusin

a second cousin — en syssling

parents-in-law — svärföräldrar

Looking for more Swedish lessons?
Author Headshot
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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