Japanese Language Blog

How to talk about your family Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Grammar

Last week I was asked by a friend how to ask if someone is married and she also asked how to say cousin and grandchild in japanese. So I thought I’d post a thread about family members and family-related phrases. One tricky thing is that you use different words for family members depending on if you are talking about your family or someone else’s family.

Your family

Another’s family


祖父 (sofu)

おじいさん (ojiisan)


祖母 (sobo)

おばあさん (obaasan)


父 (chichi)

お父さん (otousan)


母 (haha)

お母さん (okaasan)

Older brother

兄 (ani)

お兄さん (oniisan)

Younger brother

弟 (otouto)

弟さん (otoutosan)

Older sister

姉 (ane)

お姉さん (oneesan)

Younger sister

妹 (imouto)

妹さん (imoutosan)


叔父/伯父 (oji)

おじさん (ojisan)


叔母/伯母 (oba)

おばさん (obasan)


孫 (mago)

お孫さん (omagosan)



ご主人 (goshujin)


妻 (tsuma)

奥さん (okusan)


息子 (musuko)

息子さん (musukosan)


娘 (musume)

お嬢さん (ojousan)

There are also casual ways to call family members. Some examples which are often used by young people are:

Mother: かあちゃん、おかあちゃん、お母ん(okan – often used in Kansai region), お袋 (ofukuru)

Father: おとうちゃん、とうちゃん、お父ん (oton – often used in Kansai region), 親父 (oyaji)

Other :

Family – 家族 (kazoku)

Parents – 両親 (ryoushin)

Child – 子供 (kodomo)

Siblings /Brothers -兄弟 (kyoudai)

Sisters – 姉妹 (shimai)

Relatives – 親戚 (shinseki)

Married couple -夫婦 (fuufu)

Cousin – いとこ (itoko)

Useful phrases:

結婚していますか。(kekkon shite imasuka) – Are you married.

あなたの家族は何人ですか。(anata no kazoku ha nan nin desuka) How many people are there in your family.

子供 / 兄弟がいますか。(kodomo / kyoudai ga imasu ka) -Do you have children / siblings.

結婚しています。(kekkon shite imasu) – I am married.

独身です。(dokushin desu) – I am single

Keep learning Japanese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: yuki

Although I was born and raised in Austria my parents luckily taught me japanese starting at a very early age. Since most of my relatives live in Japan I try to fly to Japan once in a year. I love reading and cooking and I also enjoy traveling.


  1. Tim Upham:

    Here are family titles in Ainu. Ainu is not related to any other language in the world, but Ainu words got into Japanese, and many Japanese words got into Ainu:

    acapo – uncle
    ahci – grandmother
    ak – younger brother
    akot totto – our mother
    akot tures – our sister
    ekasi – grandfather
    hampe – father
    hoku – husband
    mat – wife
    matak – younger sister
    totto – mother
    tures – sister
    unarp – aunt
    uriwahne – brothers
    yup – older brother
    yupe – brother

  2. Hans:

    If there are two separate words for family members, why do I sometimes hear family members call each other “okaasan” or “oniisan”? Are they just saying it incorrectly or is it said as a casual sort of thing?