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Family in Chinese: 51 Essential Chinese Family Vocabulary Words

To say that family is important in Chinese culture would be an understatement.

The concept of filial piety is a central component of Chinese culture, and has echoes in Chinese society to this day.

This, as you can imagine, means it’s important to get things right when referring to family members in Chinese.

From addressing your elders with respect to discussing relationships within your family, Chinese family words play a vital role in daily conversations.

Read on to learn 51 key family terms that will help you navigate the complex paths of familial connections in the Chinese language.


Immediate Family Members

Before we delve into in-laws and paternal and maternal family words, here are the eight most common and essential family words you need to know. These are the first words you should memorize!

Extended Family Members

祖父 zǔ fùGrandfather (paternal)
祖母 zǔ mǔGrandmother (paternal)
外祖父 wài zǔ fùGrandfather (maternal)
外祖母 wài zǔ mǔGrandmother (maternal)
叔叔 shū shuUncle (paternal younger brother of father)
阿姨 ā yíAunt (paternal sister of father)
伯伯 bó boUncle (paternal older brother of father)
婶婶 shěn shenAunt (paternal wife of father's older brother)
舅舅 jiù jiuUncle (maternal brother of mother)
姨妈 yí māAunt (maternal sister of mother)
堂兄弟 táng xiōng dìCousin (paternal)
表兄弟 biǎo xiōng dìCousin (maternal)

In-Laws and Relatives by Marriage

岳父 yuè fùFather-in-law
岳母 yuè mǔMother-in-law
姐夫 jiě fūSister's husband
妹夫 mèi fūYounger sister's husband
姐婿 jiě xùHusband of one's own sister
妹婿 mèi xùHusband of younger sister
舅舅 jiù jiuMother's brother-in-law
姨夫 yí fūAunt's husband
姻亲 yīn qīnIn-laws

How to Address Family Members

You know who “mother” refers to, but you’d probably never call your mom that! So how do you actually address your family members? Use these terms:

爸爸 bà baDad
妈妈 mā maMom
爷爷 yé yePaternal grandfather
奶奶 nǎi naiPaternal grandmother
外公 wài gōngMaternal grandfather (used in Southern China)
外公 wài gōngMaternal grandmother (used in Southern China)
姥爷 lǎo yeMaternal grandfather (used in Northern China)
姥姥 lǎo laoMaternal grandmother (used in Northern China)
哥哥 gē geOlder brother
弟弟 dì diYounger brother
姐姐 jiě jieOlder sister
妹妹 mèi meiYounger sister

More Chinese Family Vocabulary

Keep the conversation rolling with some more vocabulary words related to families.

庆祝 qìng zhùCelebrate
习俗 xí súCustom
亲爱 的 qīn ài deDear (term of endearment)
亲情 qīn qíngFamile affection
家庭活动 jiā tíng huó dòngFamily activity
家庭聚会 jiā tíng jù huìFamily gathering
家人 jiā rénFamily members
合家团圆 hé jiā tuán yuánFamily reuinion
感恩 gǎn ēnGratitude
祖传 zǔ chuánInherited from ancestors
亲密 qīn mìIntimate
关系 guān xiRelationship
尊重 zūn zhòngRespect
支持 zhī chíSupport
照顾 zhào gùTake care of
传统 chuán tǒngTradition
信任 xìn rènTrust

Learn more family words or practice the ones on this list through a program like FluentU, which teaches Chinese through a combination of native Chinese-language videos and multimedia learning tools.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Family vocab woes will be a thing of the past once you’ve learned all these Chinese family vocabulary words!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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