Sound Familiar? Speaking About Family Members in Spanish

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When we first start learning Spanish, most people prefer to aim for easy conversational skills instead of heavy grammar. This way we get a sense of achievable fluency from the very beginning. In other words, it’s good to have some vocabulary ready to go. That’s why in this entry we will tackle an all-time favourite: family members.

English and Spanish hold many similarities in their vocabulary. However, this is not the case for family members. Excepting the universal m sound for the word mother, almost every other word seems to hold no resemblance whatsoever. What is one eager Spanish learner to do, then? Well, plain old vocabulary lists. Let’s check them out.

The Regulars

We’re pretty sure you’ve become somewhat familiar with this vocabulary, but in case your memory fails you:

  • Madre, mamá – mother, mom
  • Padre, papá – father, dad
  • Hijo – son
  • Hija – daughter
  • Hermanos – siblings
  • Hermano – brother
  • Hermana – sister
  • Padres, madres, padres y madres – parents

Careful with false friends: “parientes” doesn’t mean “parents“, but “relatives“.

  • Tía – aunt
  • Tío – uncle
  • Sobrino – nephew
  • Sobrina – niece
  • Abuela – grandmother
  • Abuelo – grandfather
  • Nieto – grandson
  • Nieta – granddaughter
  • Primo, prima – cousin

What about the In-laws?

  • Suegro, suegra – father-in-law, mother-in-law
  • Nuera – daughter-in-law
  • Yerno – son-in-law
  • Cuñado, cuñada – brother-in-law, sister-in-law

Additionally, the equivalent for “the in-laws” is “la familia política” in Spanish. Nothing to do with actual politicians, though.

Other Useful Vocabulary

  • Casado, casada – married
  • Viudo – widower
  • Viuda – widow
  • Separado, separada – separated
  • Divorciado, divorciada – divorced
  • Marido o esposo – husband
  • Mujer o esposa – wife
  • Prometido – fiancé
  • Prometida – fiancée
  • Novio – boyfriend or groom
  • Novia – girlfriend or bride
  • Pareja – partner
  • Amigo, amiga – friend

If you find that vocabulary lists are boring and don’t actually help you, try learning simple sentences instead. If you memorise one or two simple structures, they’re likely to roll off your tongue on a conversation instead of having to think word for word. Plus, the good thing is you can sub any word at any time and they’ll still work!

  1. ______ is ______:
    – Mi madre es fontanera     

    My mom is a plumber
    – Mi nieto es enfermero
      My grandson is a nurse
  2. I’m ______:
    – Estoy divorciada           

    I’m divorced
    – Estoy prometido
    I’m engaged
  3. I have ______:
    – Tengo 3 hermanos   

    I have 3 siblings
    – Tengo una familia muy grande
      I have a big family

Are you maybe confused about all the words ending in -o or -a? Then check out our entry on gramatical gender. It’s a must on your Spanish-learning journey in the first place…

And now finally you can put this knowledge into practice with this free online activity! Also remember: if you’re learning Spanish, make sure to check out Medita Spanish to take your Spanish learning to a whole new level. We’ll help you hack your brain to learn Spanish at peak performance levels using meditation techniques and mindful practices.

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