An important feature of communication in any language is speaking of or to your family.
Many Spanish speaking communities are very family oriented, making learning about the family a cornerstone for future Spanish speakers.
Effectively communicating about your family is also a great way to reinforce the ins and outs of Spanish grammar in general. As we get older the family dynamic is constantly changing as families expand and blend.
Today we will explore a list of family members in Spanish including some uncommon relatives, how to properly address family members in Spanish, and how to use these tools in a sentence.
Understanding feminine vs masculine in Spanish family vocabulary
Many languages use some form of the indefinite article, or a word that introduces a noun.
In Spanish, nouns are generally considered to be masculine or feminine and therefore their indefinite articles are masculine or feminine as well.
Un, unos, el, and los are usually masculine while la, las, una, and unas are feminine.
Unlike other Spanish nouns which do not necessarily have a gender, family members do.
This means that assigning them their proper indefinite article will be much easier to figure out.
Many family member titles in the Spanish language are the same except a gender indicator (a or o) at the end.
For example, grandfather is abuelo while grandmother is abuela.
This is a great indicator of which indefinite article you should use: la for abuela and el for abuelo.
Remember that even if there is no "a" or "o" at the end of the relative's title, the relative's own gender will still dictate the indefinite used.
The feminine and masculine indefinite article rules apply to plural family members too.
When deciding which to use, think of the collective genders of the entire group. A group of all females will use the feminine plural indefinite. An all male or mixed male and female group will both use masculine.
For example: Las primas means multiple female cousins. Los primos could refer to all male cousins or a mix of male and female cousins.
Context clues will usually help determine if the group is all male or mixed gendered.
When to use formal vs informal for Spanish family members
In Spanish there are two ways to refer to someone directly, tú and its conjugations and usted and its conjugations. It can be difficult to know when to use each, but tú is considered to be more casual while usted is more formal.
Each family dynamic will be different, but in general most avoid using the informal tú for older family members or those to whom you would show a little extra respect.
If you would be on your best behavior when visiting them, you would most likely use usted.
Sometimes we add to a family title to further explain the family dynamic.
The same can be done in Spanish. For example, "ex" as in "ex-wife" would still be "ex" in Spanish.
To indicate someone is older you would say "mayor" while "menor" would be used to indicate someone is younger.
For example, hermano menor means younger brother and hermano mayor means older brother.
List of family members in Spanish
Mother - Madre or Mamá (less formal)
Father - Padre or Papá (less formal)
Parents - Padres
Son - Hijo
Daughter - Hija
Brother - Hermano
Sister - Hermana
Husband - Esposo
Wife - Esposa
Stepson - Hijastro
Stepdaughter - Hijastra
Stepbrother - Hermanastro
Stepsister - Hermanastra
Half Brother - Medio Hermano
Half Sister - Medio Hermana
Cousin - Primo (male) / Prima (female)
Aunt - Tía
Uncle - Tío
Niece - Sobrina
Nephew - Sobrino
Grandfather - Abuelo
Grandmother - Abuela
Grandson - Nieto
Granddaughter - Nieta
Fiancé - Prometido (male)/ Prometida (female)
Mother-in-law - Suegra
Father-in-law - Suegro
Brother-in-law - Cuñado
Sister-in-law - Cuñada
More family members in Spanish
Baby - Bebé
Twins - Gemelos (boys or boy and girl)/ Gemelas (girls)
Godfather - Padrino
Godmother - Madrina
Goddaughter - Ahijada
Godson - Ahijado
Family Members - Parientes
Boyfriend - Novio
Girlfriend - Novia
Example sentences in Spanish for family
My mom is 65 years old. - Mi madre tiene sesenta y cinco años.
My cousins are twins. - Mis primos son gemelos.
My brother in law has a son and a daughter. - Mi cuñado tiene un hijo y una hija.
My grandparents have been married 45 years. - Mis abuelos ha estado casados por cuarenta y cinco años.
Is your brother married? - ¿Tú hermano es casado?
My parents are John and Anna. - Mis padres son John y Anna.
Where does your fiance work? - ¿Donde trabajan tú prometido
Sarah, my niece is in college. - Mi sobrina Sarah está en la universidad.
I have two uncles and an aunt. - Yo tengo dos tíos y una tía.
Grandpa, are you okay? - ¿Usted está bien abuelo?
Do you want to go shopping with me, cousin? - ¿Quieres ir de compras conmigo, prima?
Did you see the grandmas dance? - ¿Tú viste las abuelas bailan?