Beginner German: Hear and Learn Words for Family Members

In this lesson,​ we introduce vocabulary and grammar related to talking about your family and yourself. You'll learn words and phrases that will let you talk about your own family in German, as well as understand what someone else says about his or her family. You can also listen to the vocabulary!

In addition to the members of a family (die Familie, dee fah-MILL-yah), you'll learn how to ask someone's name (and answer), talk about family relationships and give the ages of people.

We will also discuss the difference between the formal and informal "you" in German - a vital cultural and language distinction that English-speakers need to understand!


One of the first things you'll notice is that many of the German words for the family are similar to the English terms. It is easy to see the close Germanic language "family resemblance" between ​brother/Bruderfather/Vater, or daughter/Tochter. We call these similar words in two languages cognates. There are a lot of English-German cognates for the family. Others are familiar because of common Latin or French origins: family/Familieuncle/Onkel, etc.

After you have studied this lesson, you will be able to read and understand a short paragraph in German about your or someone else's family. You'll even be able to draw your own family tree (Stammbaum) in German!

AUDIO: Click on the German phrases linked below to hear them.

Familienmitglieder - Family Members
Notice in the phrases below that when you talk about a feminine (die) person (or thing), the possessive pronoun mein ends in e. When talking about a masculine (der) person (or thing),​ mein has no ending in the nominative (subject) case. Other possessive forms (sein, his; dein, your, etc.) work the same way. The final e in German is always pronounced: (meine = MINE-ah)
die Mutter - meine Muttermother - my mother
der Vater - mein Vaterfather - my father
die Eltern - meine Eltern (pl.)parents - my parents
der Sohn - sein Sohnson - his son
die Tochter - seine Tochterdaughter - his daughter
der Bruder - ihr Bruderbrother - her brother
die Schwester - seine Schwestersister - his sister
AUDIO (mp3 or wav) for these words
die Geschwister - meine Geschwister (pl.)siblings / brothers & sisters - my brothers and sisters
die Großmutter - meine Großmuttergrandmother - my grandmother
die Oma - meine Omagrandma/granny - my grandma
der Großvater - dein Großvatergrandfather - your grandfather
der Opa - sein Opagrandpa/gramps - his grandpa
der Enkelsohn - mein Enkelsohngrandson - my grandson
die Enkelin - seine Enkelingranddaughter - his granddaughter
More family words in the German Family Glossary.