Vocabulary You Need To Identify Your Family In Spanish

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Vocabulary You Need To Identify Your Family In Spanish

If you’ve moved to a Spanish-speaking country, you’ll eventually be asked about your family.

Knowing how to identify your family in Spanish is obviously important and, even though there are quite a few words to remember, it’s not that difficult.

Learn all the words you need to talk about your family in Spanish using this guide.

Using masculine plurals to identify family members

Before we get started with the vocabulary, let’s first mention the importance of masculine plurals when identifying family in Spanish.

We use masculine plurals when identifying a group of people in which there are both men and women.

For this reason, if you use the phrase tres hermanos, this can refer to a group of brothers and sisters – not just brothers.

Masculine plurals can be used in this way to describe parents or padres, cousins or primos, and children, or hijos.

If you’re referring exclusively to women or girls, you can use the feminine plural.

So, if you’ve got two twin daughters, you can call them your hijas. If you have two female cousins, you can call them your primas.

How can you tell which family members are being referred to with masculine plurals?

Say you hear someone talking about los hermanos.

In Spanish, it can be a bit difficult at first to know whether someone is referring to more than one brother or referring to a group of brothers and sisters.

You’ll have to consider the context and listen carefully to understand whether they mean “the siblings” or “the brothers” when talking about family in Spanish.

For example, you might hear someone say:

Mis hermanos son muy felices.

This sentence can either mean “my brothers are very happy”, or “my siblings are very happy”.

You’ll need to follow the conversation very closely to understand which one they are referring to, or ask a follow up question to find out.

Key vocabulary to use when identifying family in Spanish

Let’s now explore the key vocabulary you should use when identifying your family in Spanish.

This section is divided into close family members and wider family members.

Vocabulary for close family in Spanish

We’ll start with the vocabulary you can use for identifying close family in Spanish.

Have you encountered these words before?

Madre

Madre means “mother” in Spanish.

It is a feminine, singular noun or sustantivo and can also refer to a woman who has qualities that are attributed to being a mother.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi madre tenía veintisiete años cuando dio a luz.

My mother was twenty-seven years old when she gave birth.

Padre

In Spanish, padre means “father”. It is masculine singular noun used to refer to a male (or un varón) who has a child or upwards of one child.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi padre dijo que me parezco a su abuelo.

My father said that I look similar to his grandfather.

Padres

Padres is a masculine plural noun that means “parents” in English. It refers to the father and mother of a person and can be used to refer to both of them.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mis padres están contentos con mis informes escolares.

My parents are happy with my school reports.

Hermana

This feminine singular noun means “sister” in English. It is used to refer to a person who has a female sibling from the same father and mother as their own.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Su hermana siempre se quejaba de la música que escuchaba.

His sister was always complaining because of the music that he listened to.

Hermano

Hermano is a masculine singular sustantivo. Use it to mention someone who is a male sibling from the same mother and father as your own.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Su hermano la cuidó y protegió cuando era joven.

Her brother looked after her and protected her when she was young.

Hermanos

Hermanos is a masculine plural noun. You can use it to mention a group of many brothers or a group of siblings that are both males and females.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Los hermanos siempre se peleaban por nada.

The brothers always fought each other over nothing.
Listen to audio

Los hermanos nacieron en Inglaterra y aprendieron inglés allí.

The siblings were born in England and learned English there.

Abuela

The Spanish word abuela is a feminine noun that means “grandmother”. Use it when you want to refer to the mother of your father or the mother of your mother.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi abuela siempre le gustaba hacer torrijas deliciosas.

My grandmother always liked making delicious French toast.

Abuelo

This sustantivo is a masculine noun for “grandfather”. It’s used to identify the father of your mother or the father of your father.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi abuelo siempre me dió chocolates ricos.

My grandfather always gave me delicious chocolates.

Abuelos

The masculine plural noun abuelos can be used to identify or refer to the parents of one of your parents, or all of your grandparents.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Todos mis abuelos vivieron en la misma ciudad.

All of my grandparents lived in the same city.
Listen to audio

Solo tengo dos abuelos. Mis abuelos por parte de madre fallecieron hace muchos años.

I only have two grandparents. My grandparents on my mother’s side passed away many years ago.

Esposa

Esposa means “wife” in English. This feminine Spanish noun refers to a woman who is married and references the relationship to her spouse or husband.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi esposa le gustan los chocolates negros y olivas. Yo no.

My wife likes dark chocolates and olives. I don’t.

Esposo

Esposo means “husband” in English. The masculine Spanish noun refers to a man who is married and relates to the spousal relationship to their wife.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

A mi marido no le gustan los melocotones ni las limas. Yo sí.

My husband doesn’t like peaches or limes. I do.

Hijo

The masculine sustantivo, hijo, means “son” in English. There’s a difference between hijo and niño. Use hijo to refer to your son, no matter their age and niño to refer to a male child.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Nuestro hijo es alto. ¡Es más alto que su padre!

Our son is tall. He’s taller than his father!

Hija

The feminine sustantivo, hija, means “daughter” in English. Note the difference between hija and niña. Use hija to refer to your daughter, regardless of how old they are, and niña to refer to a female child.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Nuestra hija tiene mucho talento. Creo que será actriz.

Our daughter is very talented. I think she’ll be an actress.

Hijos

This mascline plural sustantivo means

The masculine plural Spanish noun hijos refers to a group of sons and daughters. It translates to English as “offspring” and can also mean “children”.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mis hijos tienen trabajos muy duros.

My children have difficult jobs.

Nieto

Nieto is a masculine sustantivo that means “grandson” in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tengo un nieto que siempre dice lo que piensa.

I have a grandson who always speaks his mind.

Nieta

Nieta is a feminine sustantivo that means “granddaughter” in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

A mi nieta le encanta la música clásica.

My granddaughter loves classical music.

Nietos

Use this masculine plural Spanish noun to refer to a group of grandchildren that includes males and females, or to identify several grandsons.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

Mis nietos van a la universidad. Son muy listos.

My grandchildren go to university. They’re very clever.
Listen to audio

A mis nietos les gusta el fútbol y arreglar coches.

My grandsons like football and fixing cars.

Vocabulary for extended family in Spanish

Now we’re going to move on to the vocabulary you need to identify extended family in Spanish. Have you ever heard of these words?

Tía

The Spanish sustantivo, tía means “aunt” or “aunty” in English. Though it can also mean “girl” or “chick” when referring to a female friend.

Usage examples:

Listen to audio

A mi tía le gusta cocinar huevos cocidos con zanahorias y coliflor.

My aunty likes to cook boiled eggs with carrots and cauliflower.
Listen to audio

Lorena es una tía super guay.

Lorena is a super cool chick.

Tío

This is the masculine equivalent of the Spanish sustantivo tía. Tío means “uncle” in English. Just like the word tía, tío can be used as a colloquial word to refer to a male friend as “mate” or “guy”.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

A mi tío le gusta cortar la hierba todos los domingos.

My uncle likes to cut the grass every Sunday.
Listen to audio

Alex es un tío muy gracioso.

Alex is a very funny guy.

Tía abuela

Use this Spanish sustantivo to refer to your great-aunt. You can remember by bearing in mind that it features the feminine sustantivo tía, meaning “aunty”.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Gloria es mi tía abuela. Tiene cien años y tendrá ciento uno el mes que viene.

Gloria is my great-aunty. She is 100 years old and will be 101 next month.

Tío abuelo

Use this Spanish sustantivo to refer to your great-uncle. Again, keep in mind that it features the masculine sustantivo tío, which means “uncle” to help you remember it.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi tío abuelo murió hace siete años. Tengo una foto de él.

My great-uncle died seven years ago. I have a photo of him.

Prima

Prima, in Spanish, is a feminine noun that means “cousin” in English.

If you’ve got many female cousins, you can use the plural term primas to refer to them.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mis primas tienen un perro que ladra cuando las visito.

My cousins have a dog that barks when I visit them.

Primo

Use primo to refer to a cousin that is male, and if you need to refer to a group of male cousins, use primos.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Su primo le ha enseñado como nadar y bucear.

His cousin has taught him how to swim and dive.

Primos

As mentioned just above, primos (the plural of primo) can be used to refer to several male cousins, or to reference a group of male and female cousins.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tengo siete primos. Jack es el más joven de todos los primos.

I have seven cousins. Jack is the youngest of all the cousins.

Sobrina

Sobrina means “niece” in Spanish. Use this sustantivo to refer to the daughter of your brother or sister.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Enseñé a mi sobrina a cantar y bailar. Le encanta la música rock.

I taught my niece how to sing and dance. She loves rock music.

Sobrino

Sobrino is the masculine sustantivo or noun for the word “nephew”. Use it to refer to the son of your brother or sister.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tu sobrino estaba tomando el pelo de su amigo. Que bromista.

Your nephew was teasing his friend. What a joker.

Madrastra

Your madrastra is your stepmother. You can remember this sustantivo by keeping in mind that its first half sounds like madre.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Ella y su madrastra siempre discuten.

She and her stepmother always argue.

Padrastro

Your padrastro is your stepfather. Keep in mind that the first half sounds like padre to help you remember what it means.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Debes sentirte feliz de ser padrastro de él.

You must feel happy to be his stepfather.

Hijastra

Use this noun to identify or talk about a stepdaughter in Spanish.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tu hijastra necesita ayuda con sus deberes. ¿La ayudas?

Your stepdaughter needs help with her homework. Will you help her?

Hijastro

This noun can be used to identify or talk about a stepson in Spanish.

Listen to audio

El comportamiento de tu hijastro es muy raro. ¿Hablarás con él?

Your stepson’s behavior is very strange. Will you speak with him?

Hermanastra

Refer to a stepsister using this noun in Spanish.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Nunca le gustó su hermanastra. Siempre se gritaban.

She never liked her stepsister. They always shouted at each other.

Hermanastro

This noun can be used to refer to a stepbrother in Spanish.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tengo un hermanastro que toca la guitarra muy bien.

I have a step brother who plays the guitar really well.

Media hermana

Media hermana, containing the Spanish word media for “half”, means half-sister.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Tengo una media hermana que se parece a mi padre.

I have a half sister who looks like my father.

Medio hermano

Medio hermano, which contains the Spanish adjective medio for “half”, means half-brother.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi medio hermano es mayor que yo y muy inteligente.

My half-brother is older than me and very intelligent.

Madrina

The feminine sustantivo madrina means “godmother” in English. Again, it sounds similar to madre, which might help you remember this one.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Luisa es la madrina de Ana. Siempre la protegía y cuidaba.

Luisa is Ana’s godmother. She always protected and cared for her.

Padrino

The masculine sustantivo, padrino, means “godfather” in English. It also sounds similar to padre, which can help you remember this noun.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Nunca quería ser padrino de Susana, pero la enseñó bien.

He never wanted to be Susana’s godfather, but he taught her well.

Ahijada

Ahijada means “goddaughter” in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Estoy orgullosa de ser tu ahijada. Eres el mejor miembro de la familia que tengo.

I’m proud to be your goddaughter. You are the best family member I have.

Ahijado

Ahijado refers to a godson in Spanish.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi ahijado tiene talento. Será un artista famoso, estoy seguro.

My godson is talented. He will be a famous artist, I’m sure.

Suegra

When you get married and have a new mother-in-law, use this Spanish sustantivo to refer to her.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Aprendí a cocinar todas mis recetas de mi suegra.

I learned how to cook all my recipes from my mother-in-law.

Suegro

Use the Spanish sustantivo, suegro, to refer to a father-in-law.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Aprendí a arreglar bicicletas de mi suegro. Me alegro de haberlo hecho.

I learned how to fix bikes from my father-in-law. I’m glad I did.

Cuñada

Cuñada means sister-in-law in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

Mi cuñada me enseñó a hacer un pastel de chocolate. Sabe muy rico.

My sister-in-law taught me how to make a chocolate cake. It tastes really delicious.

Cuñado

Cuñado means brother-in-law in English.

Usage example:

Listen to audio

A su cuñado le gustaba jugar al baloncesto. Se jugaban juntos, siempre.

His brother-in-law liked to play basketball. They always used to play together.

Learn how to identify family in Spanish

When a Spanish speaker asks you about your family in Spanish, you should now be equipped to answer them.

Learn how to identify and talk about family in Spanish by practicing the nouns listed in this guide.


Any family members I missed?

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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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