Family Vocabulary in French


Family is one of the first topics of conversation that will come up when you meet French-speakers. If you are young, be prepared to tell about your parents and siblings - their age, jobs, and where they live - and if you look old enough to have children, expect to talk about them or explain why you don't have any... yet. It's a good idea to bring along photos to spark discussion.

One thing that makes learning this vocabulary a little bit simpler is that, sometimes, rather than learning different words for the female or male relatives, you can just change the ending. And, the masculine plural version can be used to refer to groups of males or males and females. The only time you would use the feminine plural version is if the group is all female.

Example:
Mes frères can mean either "my siblings" or "my brothers."

Some common family vocabulary:
Masculine Feminine Plural
Le père [father] La mère [mother] Les parents [parents]
Le frère [brother] La soeur [sister] Les frères et soeurs [siblings]
Le fils [son] La fille [daughter] Les enfants [children]
Le grand-père [grandfather] La grand-mère [grandmother] Les grand-parents [grandparents]
Le petit-fils [grandson] La petite-fille [granddaughter] Les petits-enfants [grandchildren]
L'oncle [uncle] La tante [aunt] Les oncles et tantes [aunts and uncles]
Le neveu [nephew] La nièce [niece] Les neveux et nièces [nieces and nephews]
Le cousin [male cousin] La cousine [female cousin] Les cousins [cousins]
L'époux [husband] L'épouse [wife]
Le mari [husband] La femme [wife]
Le beau-père [father-in-law] La belle-mère [mother-in-law] Les beaux-parents [parents-in-law]
Le beau-frère [brother-in-law] La belle-soeur [sister-in-law] Les beaux frères et soeurs [siblings-in-law]
Le beau-père [step-father] La belle-mère [step-mother] Les beaux-parents [step-parents]
Le beau-fils [step-son] La belle-fille [step-daughter] Les beaux-enfants [step-children]
Le beau-frère [step-brother] La belle-soeur {step-sister} Les beaux frères et soeurs [step-siblings]
Le demi-frère [half-brother] La demi-soeur [half-sister] Les demi frères et soeurs [half-siblings]

Notes:
The term "les parents" may seem like a strange way to refer to both le père and la mère, but it is, indeed, the correct term for "parents." Be careful, because where you use the term "grand" in English, you will use the term "grand" or the term "petit" in French. In these cases the adjective "grand" doesn't mean that the person is tall but that the person is older than the person who is speaking or who is referring to. The adjectives "beau" (masculine) and "belle" (feminine) are used for "in-law" but don't mean beautiful in these cases

Related Links:
French Language
Gender in French
Indefinite Articles in French
Negation in French: How to make negative sentences


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