Talking About Your Family

There Are Even Words for Parents of a Child's Spouse

Multigenerational Latino family posing for family photo at birthday party

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images 

Who are the members of your family, how many are there, and what do they do? These are among the first questions you may be asked when you meet and first become acquainted with a native Spanish speaker. Depending on your age, you may be asked about your parents and what they do for a living, or you may be asked if you are married or have any children. Learn the words to describe your family members, then bring a photo along, and even if you're a beginner and know only simple grammar, you'll be able to engage in conversation.

Gender and Family Members

Masculine plurals in Spanish can refer to mixed groups of males and females. Thus, cuatro hijos can mean either "four sons" or "four children," depending on the context. While it may sound strange to the ear attuned to English, padres is a grammatically correct way to refer to both a mother and father, even though padre alone refers to a father. Also, note that the word pariente means "relative" in general; the Spanish-English cognate doesn't refer only to parents.

Vocabulary of the Family

Following are the names for the most common relatives and some of the uncommon ones:

  • Padre: father
  • Madre: mother
  • Hermano: brother
  • Hermana: sister
  • Suegro: father-in-law
  • Suegra: mother-in-law
  • Cuñado: brother-in-law
  • Cuñada: sister-in-law
  • Esposo, marido: husband
  • Esposa, mujer: wife
  • Abuelo: grandfather
  • Abuela: grandmother
  • Bisabuelo: great-grandfather
  • Bisabuela: great-grandmother
  • Tatarabuelo: great-great-grandfather
  • Tatarabuela: great-great-grandmother
  • Hijo: son
  • Hija: daughter
  • Nieto: grandson
  • Nieta: granddaughter
  • Bisnieto: great-grandson
  • Bisnieta: great-granddaughter
  • Tataranieto: great-great-grandson
  • Tataranieta: great-great-granddaughter
  • Tío: uncle
  • Tía: aunt
  • Tío abuelo: great-uncle
  • Tía abuela: great-aunt
  • Primo: cousin (male)
  • Prima: cousin (female)
  • Primo carnal, prima carnal, primo hermano, prima hermana: first cousin
  • Primo segundo, prima segunda: second cousin
  • Sobrino: nephew
  • Sobrina: niece
  • Padrastro: stepfather
  • Madrastra: stepmother
  • Hijastro: stepson
  • Hijastra: stepdaughter
  • Hermanastro: stepbrother
  • Hermanastra: stepsister
  • Medio hermano, hermano de padre, hermano de madre: half brother
  • Media hermana, hermana de padre, hermana de madre: half sister
  • Concuñado: husband of one's spouse's sister
  • Concuñada: wife of one's spouse's brother
  • Consuegro: father-in-law of one's son or daughter
  • Consuegra: mother-in-law of one's son or daughter
  • Prometido, novio: fiance, boyfriend, groom
  • Prometida, novia: fiancée, girlfriend, bride
  • Compañero: male partner in a couple relationship
  • Compañera: female partner in a couple relationship
  • Padrino: godfather
  • Madrina: godmother
  • Ahijado: godson
  • Ahijada: goddaughter
  • Amigo: friend (male)
  • Amiga: friend (female)
  • Conocido: acquaintance (male)
  • Conocida: acquaintance (female)

Miscellaneous Family Terms

La familia política or los políticos may be used as the equivalent of "the in-laws." The terms refer to people to whom one is related by marriage. (In a different context, políticos can also refer to politicians.)

The term amigovio or amigovia can be used colloquially in some areas to refer to a person with whom another person has a romantic or sexual relationship that hasn't necessarily been formalized, such as a "friend with benefits" or a live-in lover, where there isn't necessarily an expectation of marriage. This is a word of fairly recent origin, so its meaning isn't uniform in all areas.

Note that while marido refers to a husband, there is no corresponding feminine form, marida, in standard use.

Sample Sentences Referring to Family Members

Here are some simple sample sentences you can use as models for your own:

Spanish Sentence English Translation
Mi padre es carpintero. My father is a carpenter.
Mi tía es dentista. My aunt is a dentist.
Mi madre es ama de casa. My mother is a housewife.
Tengo dos hermanos y una hermana. I have two brothers and a sister.
Tengo cuatro hermanos. This sentence can be seen as ambiguous by English speakers. It can be correctly translated as either "I have four brothers" or "I have four siblings."
Tengo nueve tíos.  "I have nine aunts and uncles" or "I have nine uncles."
Mi madrastra vive en el estado de Nueva York. My stepmother lives in New York state.
Mis sobrinas viven en Chicago. My nieces live in Chicago.
Mi padre está muerto. My father is dead.
Mi prima está muerta. My female cousin is dead.
Mi madre está viva. My mother is alive.

Otto y Edith Frank fueron los padres de Ana Frank.

 Otto and Edith Frank were the parents of Anne Frank.
Los primos no pueden casarse según nuestra cultura. Cousins cannot marry according to our culture.
Los suegras Siempre tienen mala reputación. Mothers-in-law always have a bad reputation.
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Talking About Your Family." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Erichsen, Gerald. (2023, April 5). Talking About Your Family. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Talking About Your Family." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).