Japanese Vocabulary Related to the Concept of Family

How to Talk About Your Family in Japanese

Japanese Family

Jorge Hernández Valiñan/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

In Japan, family is important, just as it is in most other parts of the world. Learning the Japanese words for family terms such as father, mother, brother, and sister, is vital for anyone studying the language. But in Japanese, learning family-related terms can be tricky.

In some cases, these terms may be different depending on what family you are discussing. In other cases, family-related terms are the same, regardless of whose family you are talking about.

The tables below are organized in different ways depending on the context.

Basic Family Words

In Japanese—unlike in English—the terms for family relationships can differ according to whether you are talking about your own family to someone else or the other person's family. For ease of reference, the family term is listed in English in the first column. The second column lists term you would use when talking about your own family.

In that column, the English transliteration of the Japanese word is listed first. Clicking on the link brings up a sound file that will allow you to hear how the word is pronounced in Japanese. Click on the file a few times and mimic the pronunciation before moving on. The family term is written in Japanese letters, called kanji, just below the sound file. The third column repeats the pattern of the first, but for terms, you would use when talking about another person's family.

English WordTalking about your familyTalking about another's family
fatherchichi
otousan
お父さん
motherhaha
okaasan
お母さん
older brother ani
oniisan
お兄さん
older sisterane
oneesan
お姉さん
younger brotherotouto
otoutosan
弟さん
younger sisterimouto
imoutosan
妹さん
grandfathersofu
祖父
ojiisan
おじいさん
grandmothersobo
祖母
obaasan
おばあさん
uncleoji
叔父/伯父
ojisan
おじさん
auntoba
叔母/伯母
obasan
おばさん
husbandotto
goshujin
ご主人
wifetsuma
okusan
奥さん
sonmusuko
息子
musukosan
息子さん
daughtermusume
ojousan
お嬢さん

 

General Family Terms

Some family words in Japanese are the same whether you are talking about your family or another person's family. These are general terms such as "family," "parents," and "siblings." The table provides the sound file in the first column with the term written in Japanese kanji directly below the term. The second column lists the word in English

Useful Family WordsEnglish Translation
kazoku
家族
family
ryoushin
両親
parents
kyoudai
兄弟
sibling
kodomo
子供
child 
itoko
いとこ
cousin
shinseki
親戚
relatives

 

Family-Related Expressions

It can also be helpful to learn common Japanese expressions and questions related to the family. The Japanese family-related phrase or question is provided in the first column. Click on the English transliteration of the phrase or question to bring up a sound file, just as in the previous sections. The phrase or question is written in Japanese letters directly below the sound file. The English translation is listed in the second column.

Useful Japanese ExpressionsEnglish Translation
Kekkon shiteimasu ka.
結婚していますか。
Are you married?
Kekkon shiteimasu.
結婚しています。
I am married.
Dokushin desu
独身です。
I am single.
Kyoudai ga imasu ka.
兄弟がいますか。
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Kodomo ga imasu ka. 子供がいますか。Do you have children?