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Family members in German

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The German family unit is basically made up of parents and their children. From the parents, the extended family grows with a variety of people forming a small circle of the family. Let’s look at the German vocabulary that describes a typical family and its members. The family members vocabularies are tested in the Goethe A1 exam. (Also read: Geothe Zertifikat German A1 exam)

First, we’ll meet the oldest family members.

Older family members in German

The opa (grandpa) and oma (grandma) are more affectionate names.

DeutschEnglisch
die Urgroßelterngreat-grandparents
der Urgroßvatergreat-grandfather
die Urgroßmuttergreat-grandmother
die Großelterngrandparents
der Großvatergrandfather
der Opagrandpa
die Großmuttergrandmother
die Omagrandma
der Schwiegervaterfather-in-law
die Schwiegermuttermother-in-law
der Seniorsenior citizen (male)
die Seniorinsenior citizen (female)

The word groß can be prefixed with other family members in German, who are more than a generation apart. For instance,

  • der Großonkel (great-uncle)
  • die Großtante (great-aunt)
  • der Großneffe (great-nephew)
  • die Großnichte (great-niece)
  • der Großenkel (great-grandson)
  • die Großenkelin (great-granddaughter)

Parents, partners, and relatives

Like opa and oma, the words such as vati, mutti, papa, and mama are more affectionate names.

DeutschEnglisch
die Elternparents
der Vaterfather
die Muttermother
der Vatidaddy
die Muttimommy
die Papadad
die Mamamom
der Ehemann (ä, -er)Husband
die Ehefrau (-en)Wife
die Verwandtenrelatives
der Onkelundle
die Tanteaunt
der Schwagerbrother-in-law
die Schwägerinsister-in-law
der Partner (-)Partner / Significant Other (m)
die Partnerin (-nen)Partner / Significant Other (f)
der FamilienstandMarital Status
ledigSingle
verheiratetMarried
geschiedenDivorced

Children and family structure

The collective noun Gebrüder meaning brothers, is no longer used to talk about a group of brothers in general. But you find this noun in company names,

  • Die Gebrüder Keller (The Keller Brothers)

DeutschEnglisch
das Kindchild
das Babybaby
das Kleinkind (-er)Toddler
der Teenager (-)Teenager
der Erwachsene (-n)Adult
der SohnSon
die Tochterdaughter
der Zwilling (-e)Twin
die Geschwisterbrothers and sisters, siblings
der Bruderbrother
die SchwesterSister
der Schwiegersohnson-in-law
die Schwiegertochterdaughter-in-law
der Enkelgrandson
die Enkelingranddaughter
der Neffenephew
die Nichteniece
der Vetter, der Cousincousin (male)
die Kusine, die Cousinecousin (female)

The adjectives for young and old are often used in the comparative or superlative to show the relationship of age between siblings or relatives:

  • mein jüngerer Bruder (my younger brother)
  • meine jüngste Schwester (my youngest sister)
  • ihr älterer Onkel (her older uncle)
  • ihre älteste Tante (her oldest aunt)