“We are family! I got all my sisters with me!”
Say hello to “beginner me!” Although here I wasn’t boogying on the dance floor and singing along to Sister Sledge’s hit song. I was singing and dancing because I’d just aced my exam on family vocabulary in French!
While some vocabulary themes in French can be rather challenging, fortunately, this is not one of them. Basic family vocabulary in French is essential yet easy to learn.
You’ll find that there are a lot of patterns within the vocabulary I’ve included this list, which will only make it simpler to remember all those important people in your life.
By the end of this post—trust me—you’ll be singing “We Are Family” Sister Sledge-style with me!
So, let’s take a look at why this vocabulary is essential, how you can practice and perfect it and which basic family terms you should learn first in French.
The Importance of Learning Family Related Vocabulary in French
As an intelligent language learner, you’re probably aware of the advice to learn the 1000+ most common words in the foreign language you are studying to make quicker progress as a beginner.
There’s a reason why words like “mother” and “brother” normally rank high, and that’s because family makes up a large part of our daily lives and conversations.
You probably don’t consciously think about how often you use family-related words in your native language. However, you’ll quickly discover as you continue on your French learning journey, that family vocabulary is essential.
Having the ability to talk about family in French is a great tool for small talk, which presents some of the best opportunities to practice your French language skills.
By the time you finish this short and sweet lesson, you’ll be a step closer to being able to ask your French friend how his sister is; even if you don’t totally understand his impassioned reply about how annoying she’s being at the moment. But, hey, at least you tried!
My point is that by being able to talk about family, you’ll be developing and deepening relationships with others French speakers. This in turn will open up new linguistic opportunities that’ll further help you to improve your French.
How to Practice Family Vocabulary in French
There are many different ways to practice using family vocabulary in French. And, like all components of learning a new language, it’s important to practice what you’ve learned. Practice and repetition are key!
Let’s take a look at some fantastic resources to do just that.
Bonjour de France
Bonjour de France is an excellent website for gaining some insight into various French language learning topics and increasing your proficiency through accompanying exercises.
In the A1 beginner category, there’s plenty of “family in French” topics to choose from, including a category which basically consolidates everything you’ll learn in this article. Plus, you’ll have access to tests to assess what you’ve learned!
Once you feel confident with the basic vocabulary, there’s a category on how to talk about your family.
And, if you feel in the mood for a story, dim the lights, grab a hot chocolate and follow this comprehension exercise to push yourself even further!
It’s one thing to learn a bunch of vocabulary words, but it’s another thing to actually use them.
The next best thing to full-on immersion in France, is FluentU. With FluentU, you’ll have the opportunity to gain immersion-like exposure to French vocabulary related to family spoken by native speakers in real-life contexts.
The combination of topic and level-specific video content with interactive subtitles, vocabulary lists and quizzes allows you to not only expand your vocabulary, but also learn how it’s used by French speakers.
Perhaps the most interesting part of FluentU is its “learn mode.” Learn mode takes videos and turns them into French learning lessons. The lessons are fully personalized, so that your learning history is taken into account when putting together practice questions for you.
FluentU’s algorithm sets you up for success by teaching you based on what you know and don’t know.
Once you feel confident in your beginner family in French vocabulary, FluentU has plenty more in store for you that’s geared toward intermediate and advanced learners.
Create Your Own Family Tree
Genealogy and heritage testing are so in right now.
Why not take advantage of this movement and create your own family tree in French? Doing this will allow you to practice the more obscure names for family members, such as those in your extended family and beyond.
Want to know how to say “my third cousin twice removed” in French?
Better get some pen and paper!
The Game of Life (Destins)
I remember many evenings playing this board game with my own family.
While I usually started out as a single person with dreams and ended up as a divorcee with multiple plastic daughters, it was a fantastic way to increase my knowledge of family related vocabulary as a child.
This includes many adjectives that’ll have to be explored in a follow-up post, such as: single, divorced, widowed, et cetera, as well as all the intermediate to advanced level words we use in daily family life.
And, oh yes my friend, there’s a French version of the Game of Life.
Destins (Fates) is the francophone answer to the historic American board game. So while you’ll probably be up to your eyeballs in debt and not get that amazing country house, you’ll on the other hand be on your way to master family vocabulary in French.
Playing this game or something similar is also an excuse to interact with other French learners in a fun and engaging way.
34 Essential Words for Family in French to Talk About the Ones Whom You Love the Most
Immediate Family Vocabulary in French
Les parents — parents
La mère — mother
Le père — father
La maman — mom or mommy
Le papa — dad or daddy
La sœur — sister
Le frère — brother
Les enfants — children
L’enfant (male or female) — child
La fille — daughter
Le fils — son
Additions to Your Immediate Family
La belle-mère — stepmother or mother-in-law
Le beau-père — stepfather or father-in-law
La belle-sœur — stepsister or sister-in-law
Le beau-frère — stepbrother or brother-in-law
Can you see a pattern emerging? The female nouns require the adjective belle, while the male nouns require beau.
Grandparents and Grandchildren in French
Les grand-parents — grandparents
La grand-mère — grandmother
Le grand-père — grandfather
La mémé — grandma
Le pépé — granddad
Les petits-enfants — grandchildren
La petite-fille — granddaughter
Le petit-fils — grandson
Your Extended Family in French
La tante — aunt
L’oncle — uncle
La tata — auntie
Le tonon — uncle
La femme/épouse — wife
Le mari/époux — husband
Les cousins — cousins
La cousine — female cousin
Le cousin — male cousin
La nièce — niece
Le neveu — nephew
Oh, family! We don’t always like them, but we likely always love them! Learning to talk about your family in French, and being able to ask your French-speaking friends about theirs will certainly help you take your French to the next level.
Family is an integral part of our lives, so naturally this topic in French vocabulary is an integral part of our learning!
Sophie McDonald is a freelance content writer with a burning passion for writing and languages. You can find her Twitter page here where she will probably be talking about writing and languages.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.