How to Say "Aunt" in Mandarin Chinese

Toddler and her aunt puffing out their cheeks
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There are many terms for "aunt" in Chinese depending on whether the aunt is on the mother's side, father's side, the eldest aunt, or the youngest aunt. Also, each region in China has its own way of saying "aunt."

Across the board, the most common term for "aunt" in Chinese is 阿姨 (ā yí).


The Chinese term for "aunt" or "auntie" is composed of two characters: 阿姨. The pinyin for the first character 阿 is "ā." Thus, 阿 is pronounced in the 1st tone. The pinyin for the second character 姨 is "yí." That means 姨 is pronounced in the 2nd tone. In terms of tones, 阿姨 can also be referred to as a1 yi2.

Term Use

阿姨 (ā yí) is a general term that can be used to refer to a family member, but it can also refer to people outside of the family. While it is considered polite to formally address female acquaintances as "Miss" or "Mrs." in America, Chinese culture errs on the more familiar side. When addressing friends of parents, parents of friends, or elder females acquaintances in general, it is common to call them 阿姨 (ā yí). In that way, this term is akin in "auntie" in English.

Different Family Members

As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to say "aunt" in Chinese depending on many factors. Here is a short breakdown of different terms for "aunt" in Mandarin Chinese.

姑姑 (gūgu): father's sister
婶婶 (shěnshen): father's brother's wife
姨媽 (traditional) / 姨妈 (simplified) (yímā): mother's sister
舅媽 (traditional) / 舅妈 (simplified) (jiùmā): mother's brother's wife

Sentence Examples Using Āyí

Āyí lái le!
阿姨來了! (traditional Chinese)
阿姨来了! (simplified Chinese)
Auntie is here!

Tā shì bùshì nǐ de āyí?
她是不是你的阿姨?(both traditional and simplified Chinese)
Is she your aunt?

Āyí hǎo!
阿姨好! (both traditional and simplified Chinese)
Hi, Auntie!

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Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say "Aunt" in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Su, Qiu Gui. (2020, August 27). How to Say "Aunt" in Mandarin Chinese. Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say "Aunt" in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).