Family in German: 41 Key Vocabulary Words

Have you ever noticed how often family comes up in conversation? 

Whether you’re learning German for the first time or looking to expand your vocabulary, understanding how to talk about family is essential for everyday conversations. 

Let’s explore how to talk about family in German, from your immediate to your extended family and beyond!


The Importance of Family in German Culture

Family is highly valued in German culture. Germans often maintain strong ties with their immediate and extended families and there’s a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to your family.  

The German social welfare system is also family-oriented, with policies that support families, especially those with children. This includes parental leave, childcare services and financial assistance. German parents are entitled to a whopping three years of parental leave… per child! 

There’s also a strong emphasis on respecting and caring for elders in German families. Grandparents often play an active role in the lives of their grandchildren, providing wisdom and guidance. They’re generally well taken care of by the country when they need additional care later in life.

While elders are important, the typical German household consists of mother, father and children, with extended relatives and elders generally living on their own. 

Special events and holidays are often celebrated at home with the family. These events bring family members together and are marked by traditions and rituals. 

In fact, spending some down time with the fam is so important to German culture that it’s celebrated by Kaffee und Kuchen, an hour break from a work day to relax over coffee and cake with family (or friends/coworkers). 

How to Say “Family” in German

The word for “family” in German is Familie and the plural is Familien

The word is pretty much synonymous, but just be sure to learn it as a singular word, not plural. Often in English, you’ll hear people say “My family are” instead of “My family is.” This doesn’t fly in German—so be sure to always conjugate whatever verb you’re using to the third person singular!

Here are a few examples:

Meine Familie ist groß. — My family is big.

Ich liebe meine Familie. — I love my family.

Wie geht es deiner Familie? — How is your family?

Seine Familie kommt aus Deutschland. — His family is from Germany.

Es gibt viele Familien in dieser Nachbarschaft. — There are many families in this neighborhood.

How to Talk About Family Members in German

Immediate Family in German

die Mutter the mother
die Mama the mom (informal)
der Vater the father
der Papa the dad (informal)
die Tochter the daughter
der Sohn the son
die Geschwister the siblings
die Schwester the sister
die ältere Schwester the older sister
die jüngere Schwester the younger sister
der Bruder the brother
der ältere Bruder the older brother
der jüngere Bruder the younger brother
die Frau the wife
der Mann the husband
das Kind the child
die Tante the aunt
der Onkel the uncle
der Cousin the (male) cousin
die Cousine the (female) cousin

Extended Family in German

die Großmutter the grandmother
der Großvater the grandfather
die Enkelin the granddaughter
der Enkel the grandson
die Nichte the niece
der Neffe the nephew
die Urgroßmutter the great-grandmother
der Urgroßvater the great-grandfather
die Urenkelin the great-granddaughter
der Urenkel the great-grandson
die Schwiegermutter the mother-in-law
der Schwiegervater the father-in-law
die Schwägerin the sister-in-law
der Schwager the brother-in-law
die Stiefmutter the step-mother
der Stiefvater the step-father
die Stieftochter the step-daughter
der Stiefsohn the step-son
die Halbschwester the half-sister
der Halbbruder the half-brother

Sample Sentences for Talking About Family

You just learned a lot of words! How do you actually put them to use? You can start by adapting the sentences below to suit whatever you need to say. 

For even more examples of these words used in context, you can use the FluentU German program.

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German family words are a breeze to remember, especially as an English speaker.

And remember: We’re all part of the German language learning family! 

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