family spanish

How to Talk about Your Family in Spanish

Do you have any brothers or sisters? How does it feel to be the oldest child? Does your family still live in Poland?

People – especially my in-laws – were very curious about my family when I first came to Chile. 

And no wonder. It is such an easy and comfortable conversation starter with any foreigner and a great way to learn about other countries’ cultural aspects. 

On the other hand, for someone who was just starting to learn Spanish, these simple and easy-to-answer questions made me feel a little more confident about my communication skills. 

How to talk about your family in Spanish? First of all, you need to master a few essential words.

Family Members in Spanish – the Key Vocabulary

  • 🇪🇸 el esposo – 🇬🇧 husband (formal)
  • 🇪🇸 el marido – 🇬🇧 husband (informal)
  • 🇪🇸 el padre / el papá– 🇬🇧 father / dad
  • 🇪🇸 el hijo – 🇬🇧 son
  • 🇪🇸 el hermano – 🇬🇧 brother
  • 🇪🇸 la esposa – 🇬🇧 wife (formal)
  • 🇪🇸 la señora – 🇬🇧 wife (informal)
  • 🇪🇸 madre / la mamá – 🇬🇧 mother /mom
  • 🇪🇸 la hija – 🇬🇧 daughter
  • 🇪🇸 la hermana – 🇬🇧 sister

Confusing Family Relations in Spanish

Even though talking about your family in Spanish is mostly easy, there are some tricky things that – from my experience as a teacher English speakers often have problems with.

1. The confusion between “padres” and “parientes” 

The Spanish word “padres” means “parents”. “Parientes” on the other hand, translates as “relatives”. 

🇪🇸 ¿Tus padres viven en Boston?
🇬🇧 ¿Do your parents live in Boston?

🇪🇸 ¿Tienes parientes en Sudamérica?
🇬🇧 Do you have relatives in South America?

The apparent similarity between “parientes” and “parents” is nothing more than a false cognate. 

2. The confusion between the word “hijos” and “niños”. 

In English, you can use the word “child” and “children” in two different contexts: when you talk about your children (like in sons and daughters), and also when you talk about random kids. 

In Spanish, however, these two contexts require you to use two different words:

🇪🇸 ¿Cuántos hijos tienes?
🇬🇧 ¿How many children do you have?

🇪🇸 Hay muchos niños jugando en el parque. 
🇬🇧 Many children are playing in the park.

3. The confusion related to the word “hermanos”. 

If you have three brothers and two sisters, you can say that all together you have “five siblings”, right?

In Spanish, however, you’d say that you have “cinco hermanos”

What?

But “hermanos” are brothers, male.

Trust me, I know. 

But the same word also means siblings

To avoid any confusion, it is better to clarify right from the start: 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cuántos hermanos tienes?
B: Tengo cinco hermanos, 3 hombres y 2 mujeres. 
🇬🇧
A: ¿How many siblings do you have?
B: I have 5 siblings, 3 brothers and 2 sisters. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Tienes hermanos?
B: Si, tengo 4. Y son puros varones. 
🇬🇧
A: ¿Do you have any siblings.
B: Yes, I have 4. All of them are male.

I understand it might sound a little tricky at the beginning, but with some practice, you’ll soon get a hold of what the correct word is. 

How to Talk about your Relatives in Spanish

As you well know, your family is not only your parents, your siblings, or your children. It’s also your grandparents, your aunts, uncles, and cousins, and when you get married, it is also your in-laws.

Let’s look at how to name them all in Spanish and make simple sentences with these words. 

Extended Family

MasculineFeminine
🇪🇸 el tío – 🇬🇧 uncle
🇪🇸 el primo – 🇬🇧 cousin (male)
🇪🇸 el sobrino – 🇬🇧 nephew
🇪🇸 el abuelo – 🇬🇧 grandfather
🇪🇸 el nieto – 🇬🇧 grandson
🇪🇸 el bisabuelo – 🇬🇧 great-grandfather
🇪🇸 la tía – 🇬🇧aunt
🇪🇸 la prima – 🇬🇧 cousin (female)
🇪🇸 la sobrina – 🇬🇧 niece
🇪🇸 la abuela -🇬🇧 grandmother
🇪🇸 la nieta – 🇬🇧 granddaughter
🇪🇸 la bisabuela – 🇬🇧 great-grandmother

🇪🇸 Mi tío Pedro y mi tía Clarita viven en Barcelona.
🇬🇧 My uncle Pedro and my auntie Clarita live in Barcelona

🇪🇸 Mi bisabuela cumple 100 años este mes.
🇬🇧 My great-grandmother is turning 100 this month

🇪🇸 Cuando niños, jugabamos mucho con nuestros primos.
🇬🇧 We used to play a lot with our cousins when we were kids

In-Laws

MasculineFeminine
🇪🇸 el suegro -🇬🇧 father-in-law
🇪🇸 el yerno – 🇬🇧 son-in-law
🇪🇸 el cuñado – 🇬🇧 brother-in-law
🇪🇸 la suegra – 🇬🇧 mother-in-law
🇪🇸 la nuera– 🇬🇧 daughter–in-law
🇪🇸 la cuñada – 🇬🇧 sister-in-law

🇪🇸 Almorzamos en la casa de mis suegros todos los domingos. 
🇬🇧 Every Sunday we have lunch at my in-laws’ house.

🇪🇸 Mi cuñado estudia medicina.
🇬🇧 My brother-in-law studies medicine. 

🇪🇸 Mi nuera se llama Carla y vive en Inglaterra con su familia.
🇬🇧 My daughter-in-law’s name is Carla and she lives in England with her family. 

Blended Family

MasculineFeminine
🇪🇸 el padrastro – 🇬🇧 step-father
🇪🇸 el hijastro – 🇬🇧 step-son
🇪🇸el hermanastro – 🇬🇧 step-brother
🇪🇸 el medio-hermano – 🇬🇧 half-brother
🇪🇸 la madrastra – 🇬🇧 step-mother
🇪🇸 la hijastra – 🇬🇧 step-daughter
🇪🇸 la hermanastra – 🇬🇧 step-sister
🇪🇸 la media-hermana – 🇬🇧 half-sister

🇪🇸 Mis padres se divorciaron cuando tenia diez años.
🇬🇧 My parents got divorced when I was ten. 

🇪🇸 Ahora vivo con mi mamá y mi padrastro. 
🇬🇧 Now I live with my mom and my step-father.

🇪🇸 Tengo una media hermana. Es 5 años menor que yo. 
🇬🇧 I have a half-sister. She’s 5 years younger than me.  

God Family

MasculineFeminine
🇪🇸 el padrino – 🇬🇧 godfather
🇪🇸 el ahijado – 🇬🇧 godson
🇪🇸 el compadre – 🇬🇧 your child’s godfather
🇪🇸 la madrina – 🇬🇧 godmother
🇪🇸 la ahijada – 🇬🇧 goddaughter
🇪🇸 la comadre – 🇬🇧 your child’s godmother

🇪🇸 Mi madrina es la mejor amiga de mi mamá.
🇬🇧 My godmother is my mom’s best friend.

🇪🇸 Mi hermana tuvo a su bebé hace un par de meses. Quiere que yo sea el padrino.
🇬🇧 My sister had her baby a couple of months ago. She wants me to be his godfather. 

🇪🇸 Este regalo es para mi ahijada. Está de cumpleaños hoy.
🇬🇧 This present is for my goddaughter. It’s her birthday today. 

Basic conversations about your family in Spanish

Finally, time for some real-life dialogues. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll get asked the same questions. 😉

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cómo están tus padres?
B: Muy bien. Gracias por preguntar. 
🇬🇧
A: How are your parents?
B: Very well. Thanks for asking.

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cómo es tu hermano?
B: Es muy serio y formal, muy diferente a mí.
🇬🇧
A: What’s your brother like?
B: He’s very serious and formal, very different from me.

Check out the use of the verb ESTAR and SER in these two dialogues. Do you remember the difference between them? ESTAR is for the temporary conditions and SER for the permanent ones.

🇪🇸
A: ¿Tienes familia acá en Chile / Perú / Bolivia, etc?
B: Si, tengo una tía. Me estoy quedando en su casa.
🇬🇧
A: Do you have any family here in Chile / Peru / Bolivia, etc?
B: Yes, I have an aunt. I’m staying at her house. 

🇪🇸
A: Tienes hermanos?
B: Si, tengo dos hermanas mayores. 
🇬🇧
A: Do you have any brothers or sisters / siblings?
B: Yes, I have two older sisters. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cómo se llama tu papá?
B: Se llama Pedro. 
🇬🇧
A: What’s your father’s name?
B: His name is Pedro.

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cuántos años tiene tu abuela?
B: Tiene noventa y dos años.
🇬🇧
A: How old is your grandmother?
B: She’s 92 years old. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Aún vives con tus padres?
B: No, vivo solo desde hace 3 años.
🇬🇧
A: Do you still live with your parents?
B: No, I’ve been living alone for 3 years now. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Extrañas a tu familia?
B: Claro que sí. Sobre todo a mi hermana chica.  
🇬🇧
A: Do you miss your family?
B: Of course I do. Especially my little sister. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿A qué se dedica tu cuñado?
B: Es ingeniero. Trabaja en la construcción.  
🇬🇧
A: What does your brother-in-law do?
B: He’s an engineer. He works in the construction industry. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Cómo te llevas con tu suegra?
B: Bien. Ella es muy amorosa. 
🇬🇧
A: How do you get along with your mother-in-law?
B: Good. She’s very nice. 

🇪🇸
A: ¿Quién es ella? – looking at a photo
B: Es mi sobrina. Se llama María y tiene 12 años.
🇬🇧
A: Who’s she?
B: She’s my niece. Her name is María and she’s 12 years old. 

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Joanna Lupa

Joanna Lupa

Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.