German Language Blog

German vocabulary: Family Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Language

The German Kernfamilie (nuclear family) consists of Eltern (parents) and their Kinder (children). But there are also a variety of other people in a family, both young and old, who affect family life to some degree, namely the extended family. Let’s have a look at the German vocabulary that describe typical family members. First, we’ll meet the oldest members of the family:


die Urgroßeltern – great-grandparents

der Urgroßvater – great-grandfather

die Urgroßmutter – great-grandmother

die Großeltern – grandparents

der Großvater – grandfather

die Großmutter – grandmother

die Schwiegereltern – parents-in-law

der Schwiegervater – father-in-law

die Schwiegermutter – mother-in-law


Grandparents still play an important role in children’s life. If children and grandparents live in one and the same town or city, children often spend time with their grandparents, for example, they spend the afternoon with them after kindergarten or school or visit them on the weekend. Children usually call their grandparents by more affectionate names:

der Opa – grandpa

die Oma – grandma


The word groß is also used as a prefix for other members of the family who

are more than a generation apart:


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 and their children are still the hub of family life:


die Eltern – parents

der Vater – father

die Mutter – mother


Just like the grandparents, children call their parents usually by more affectionate names:



der Vati – daddy

die Mutti – mommy

der Papa – dad

die Mama – mom



The children have different names depending on their relationship to other members of the family:


das Kind – child

das Baby – baby

der Sohn – son

die Tochter – daughter

die Geschwister – brothers and sisters, siblings

der Bruder – brother

die Schwester – sister

der Schwiegersohn – son-in-law

die Schwiegertochter – daughter-in-law

Enkelkind – grandchild

der Enkel – grandson

die Enkelin – granddaughter



When two people combine their families into one, the word Stief is used as a prefix:


der Stiefvater – stepfather

die Stiefmutter – stepmother

die Stiefkinder – stepchildren

der Stiefsohn – stepson

die Stieftochter – stepdaughter

die Stiefgeschwister – stepbrothers and sisters

der Stiefbruder – stepbrother

die Stiefschwester – stepsister


The families of the brothers and sisters of one’s parents make up another segment of the family structure:


die Verwandten – relatives

der Onkel – uncle

die Tante – aunt

der Schwager – brother-in-law

die Schwägerin – sister-in-law

der Neffe – nephew

die Nichte – niece

der Vetter, der Cousin – cousin (male)

die Kusine, die Cousine – cousin (female)


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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Joseph T. Madawela:

    Danke! Sehr hilfreih

  2. Joseph T. Madawela:

    Danke Sehr hilfreich

  3. Pius:

    Thank-you for all of the explanations

  4. Vishnu:

    Good explanation