All The French Words You Need To Talk About Your Family

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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All The French Words You Need To Talk About Your Family

Do you know the words needed to identify members of your family in French? 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

It’s clearly important, especially if someone asks you about your family and, for example, wants to know how old your frère is.

If you’ve found that talking about your family members once you’ve introduced yourself is a bit difficult because you don’t have the French vocabulary, this guide will help.

This guide will help you revise what you’ve covered in your French course.

How do you say family in French?

The word for “family” is la famille.

It’s a feminine noun, which you can tell by looking at the feminine article la.

To say “family members”, use the phrase les membres de la famille. It’s not too difficult to remember, since the word “members” is practically a cognate.

What does parent mean in French?

The French word parent has two meanings:

  1. It can refer to your “mother” or “father” and, in this sense, is used to refer to your “parents”. In this sense, it’s not difficult to remember because it’s the same in English.
  2. The word parent can also mean “relative”, and is used as a French adjective and a noun in this regard.

For example, you wanted to tell someone that you don’t have relatives in Canada, you could say:

Listen to audio

Je n’ai pas de parents au Canada.

I don’t have relatives in Canada.

Alternatively, you could use parents as an adjective to describe how you are related to one of your family members.

In this sense, parents means “related”. Here’s an example of how to use it:

Listen to audio

Nous ne sommes pas parentes.

We are not related.

Essential vocabulary for speaking about and identifying family in French

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s turn our attention to the essential vocabulary needed to speak about and identify family in French.

I’ve split this section into immediate and wider members of the family in French.

Vocabulary to speak about immediate family in French

Here are some of the vocabulary you can use to speak about your immediate family in French.

Which of these do you know?

Mère

Use mère when you want to say “mother” in French. This feminine French noun can be used to talk about your female parent.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma mère aime cuisiner des plats italiens.

My mum likes to cook Italian food.

Père

Use père when you want to say “father” in French. This masculine French noun can be used to identify and speak about your male parent.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon père aime réparer les ordinateurs et créer des logiciels.

My dad likes to fix computers and make software.

Parents

Les parents can be used to talk about both your mother and father in French. This phrase is a cognate, so you’ll have less trouble remembering it.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mes parents se sont rencontrés à l’université. Ils ont tous deux étudié la littérature française.

My parents met at university. They both studied French literature.

SĹ“ur

Sœur is a feminine French noun that translates to English as “sister”. Use it when you want to identify your female sibling in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma sœur aime lire des livres et regarder des films espagnols.

My sister likes reading books and watching Spanish films.

Frère

Frère is the French noun for “brother”. If you’re describing your male sibling, who has the same parents as you, use frère to identify them.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Est-ce que ton frère aime le football ?

Does your brother like football?

Frères et sœurs

The French word for “siblings” is frères et sœurs. This phrase literally translates to “brothers and sisters” in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Les frères et sœurs de Louisa se disputent toujours à propos des programmes télévisés qu’ils regardent.

Louisa’s siblings always argue about the television programs they watch.

Grand-mère

Combining the words “grand” and “mère”, meaning “grand” and “mother” in English, this French noun means “grandmother”. If you’re refering to your father’s mother, or your mother’s mother, use grand-mère.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Sophie avait l’habitude d’aller à l’église avec sa grand-mère tous les week-ends.

Sophie used to go to church with her grandmother every weekend.

Grand-père

This French noun combines the words “grand” and “père”, which mean “grand” and “father. It means “grandfather” in English and can be used to refer to your mother’s father, or your father’s father.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Sophie demandait des chocolats à son grand-père tous les samedis.

Sophie used to ask her grandfather for chocolates every Saturday.

Grands-parents

Combining the words “grands” and “parents” this French noun means “grandparents”. You can use it to speak about the parents of your parents.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Leurs grands-parents sont nés en 1920.

Their grandparents were born in 1920.

Femme

Femme means “wife” in French. It can be used to refer to a married woman in a spousal relationship with her husband.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Sa femme voulait divorcer mais a décidé de réessayer.

His wife wanted to get divorced but decided to try again.

Mari

Mari means “husband” in French. Use it to refer to a married man in a spousal relationship with his wife.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Son mari l’aimait beaucoup mais ne voulait pas d’enfant.

Her husband loved her very much but didn’t want to have children.

Fille

Use fille when you want to talk about a “daughter” or someone’s daughter. Note the difference between enfant and fille. Use fille to talk about a daughter of any age, and enfant when talking about a child.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Notre fille Ă©tudie la langue espagnole. Elle veut aller au PĂ©rou.

Our daughter is studying the Spanish language. She wants to go to Peru.

Fils

Fils means “son” in English. Use this French noun to identify someone’s son in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Notre fils Ă©tudie la langue italienne. Il veut aller en Italie.

Our son is studying the Italian language. He wants to go to Italy.

Enfants

Enfants, which is similar to the partial cognate “infants”, means children in English. Use this French noun when referring to more than one child.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Nos enfants aiment jouer aux jeux vidéo. Ils ne font pas de sport.

Our children like playing video games. They don’t play sports.

Petite fille

Petite fille means “granddaughter” in English. Use this French noun to refer to the daughter of your daughter or the daughter of your son.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma petite-fille me ressemble. Elle a la mĂŞme couleur de cheveux.

My granddaughter looks like me. She has the same hair color.

Petit fils

Petit fils translates to English as “grandson”. This French noun can be used to refer to the son of your daughter or the son of your son.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon petit-fils ressemble à son père. Leur nez et la forme de leurs yeux sont identiques.

My grandson looks like his father. Their noses and the shape of their eyes are the same.

Petits enfants

Use petits enfants as the plural form of petit enfant to identify or talk about several “grandchildren” in the French language.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tous ses petits-enfants sont gentils les uns avec les autres. Ils sont polis et respectueux.

All of her grandchildren are nice to each other. They are polite and respectful.

Vocabulary to speak about wider family in French

Let’s now focus on the vocabulary you can use to speak about your extended family in French. Which ones do you recognise? Which ones do you need to revise?

Tante

Tante means “aunt” in English. Use this to refer to the sister of your mother, the sister of your brother, or your uncle’s wife.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma tante fait des gâteaux le week-end et les partage avec nous.

My aunt makes cakes on the weekend and shares them with us.

Oncle

Use oncle to refer to your “uncle” in French. This is a sort of cognate that makes oncle simpler to remember.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon oncle nous aide Ă  installer des logiciels sur nos ordinateurs.

My uncle helps us install software on our computers.

Grand-tante

A grand-tante, which combines the words grand and tante, is your “great-aunt” or “great-aunty” in English. Keep in mind that this French noun contains the word tante, meaning aunt, which will help you to remember this one.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Sa grand-tante est décédée la semaine dernière. Il était très triste.

His grand-aunt died last week. He was very sad.

Grand-oncle

Grand-oncle means “great-uncle” in English. Try to remember that oncle means “uncle”, which will help you remember this family member more easily.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma grand-oncle est toujours en vie. Il a cent deux ans.

My grand-uncle is still alive. He is one hundred and two.

Cousine

Cousine is a French noun that means “female cousin”. Use this to refer to the daughter of your aunt or uncle.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma cousine a le même âge que moi. Nous avons tous les deux trente et un ans.

My cousin is the same age as me. We’re both thirty one.

Cousin

Just like the Spanish family members, “cousin” has a masculine and feminine word. Cousin is a masculine French noun that means “male cousin”. Use this noun to refer to the son of your aunt or uncle.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon cousin est plus âgé que moi. Nous aimons tous les deux patiner et manger du chocolat.

My cousin is older than me. We both like skating and eating chocolate.

Cousins

Cousins is the plural form of the French noun cousin. Use it to refer to several cousins – that is the sons and daughters of your aunts and uncles.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tous mes cousins aiment chanter et danser. Je n’aime pas ça.

All of my cousins love to sing and dance. I don't enjoy it.

Nièce

This cognate, though pronounced differently in French, means “niece” in English. Use this noun to refer to the female child of your brother or sister. Your nièce can also be the daughter of your brother- or sister-in-law.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je suis allé à l’hôpital quand ma nièce est née. Elle était petite, mais ne pleurait pas beaucoup.

I went to the hospital when my niece was born. She was tiny, but didn't cry very much.

Neveu

A neveu is your “nephew”. Use this French noun to talk about the male son of your brother or your sister. Your neveu can also be the son of your brother- or sister-in-law.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon neveu est très méchant. Mais il est aussi très drôle.

My nephew is very naughty. But he is also very funny.

Belle-mère

Belle-mère means “stepmother”. You can use this French noun to talk about a female partner of your father, where the female partner is not your biological mother and has married your father after divorce or separation.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je ne connais pas très bien ma belle-mère, mais elle a l’air très gentille.

I don't know my stepmother very well, but she seems very nice.

Beau-père

Beau-père means “stepfather”. Use this French noun to refer to the male partner of your mother, where the male partner is not your biological father, or has married your mother after separation.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je connais très bien mon beau-père. Il est très sérieux mais très gentil.

I know my stepfather very well. He is very serious but very nice.

Belle fille

Use belle fille to refer to your “daughter-in-law” when speaking in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

J’aime ma belle-fille comme si elle était mon propre enfant.

I love my daughter-in-law as if she were my own child.

Beau fils

Use beau fils to refer to your “son-in-law” when speaking in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon beau-fils est très intelligent et aimant.

My son-in-law is very intelligent and loving.

Demi-soeur

Containing the words demi (meaning “half”) and sœur (meaning “sister”) demi-sœur means “half-sister” or “step sister”.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma demi-sœur vit au Canada. Je ne l’ai jamais rencontrée.

My half-sister lives in Canada. I have never met her.

Demi-frère

Containing the words demi (meaning “half”) and frère (meaning “brother”) demi-frère means “half-brother” or “step brother”.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon demi-frère vit en Côte d’Ivoire. Je lui ai rendu visite l’année dernière.

My half-brother lives on the Ivory Coast. I visited him last year.

Marraine

Use marraine to refer to your godmother in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ma marraine s’occupe de moi quand je ne vais pas bien.

My godmother looks after me when I am not well.

Parrain

Use parrain to refer to your godfather in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon parrain m’a appris à attraper un ballon de rugby.

My godfather taught me how to catch a rugby ball.

Filleule

Your goddaughter is your filleule in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Sa filleule n’a jamais réalisé qu’elle n’était pas sa mère biologique.

Her goddaughter never realised that she was not her biological mother.

Filleul

Your godson is your filleul in French.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon filleul est un garçon heureux et énergique.

My godson is a happy and energetic boy.

Belle-sœur

Belle-sœur means “sister-in-law” in French. Use this French noun to refer to the daughter of your stepmother or stepfather.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Je suis tellement contente d’avoir une belle-sœur. Mon frère était très ennuyeux.

I'm so glad to have a sister-in-law. My brother was very annoying.

Beau-frère

Beau-frère means “brother-in-law” in French. Use this French noun to refer to the son of your stepmother or stepfather.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mon beau-frère n’arrête pas de parler. Il parle de choses ennuyeuses.

My brother-in-law never stops talking. He talks about boring things.

Speak about family in French and ask others about theirs

If you’re in a country where French is spoken, being able to talk about your family members is important. It’s crucial that you learn the right French words to describe your family.

Looking at the list, it might seem daunting.

But practising a little bit each day, and memorising these nouns will give you more confidence when chatting about your relatives.


Any other French family members I missed?

Comment below.

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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