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Archive for the 'Spanish Alphabet' Category

The Best Guide to Naming Your Family in Spanish

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Do you know the top reasons for learning Spanish? In today’s world, you’re very likely to have a friend, family member, or a loved one who speaks Spanish. Learning to name the family members in Spanish is the best place to start when seeking to learn their language, because family in Spanish-speaking countries is a strong institution. That’s also why these cultures are so welcoming.

Learn the different ways to say “mother” in Spanish and “father” in Spanish. No matter the reasons you want to learn Spanish, practice how to say family member names in Spanish so next time you’re invited to spend your summer holiday with your lover’s family, you can impress them with your conversation comprehension.

So how do you talk about the family in Spanish? If you’ve ever visited Spain or stayed in Spain for a lengthy period of time, you’ve probably noticed the use of diminutives quite often: Tita, Abuelita, and even Andreita. This is one of the most common ways that family in Spanish cultures speaks to each other. It often means that you have a close relationship with your family members.

In Spain, it’s very common for the whole family to gather on Sundays to have lunch, and if you ever get invited to one, you’ll notice how they name family members in Spanish. You may feel confused as to why they use so many terms for “mother” in Spanish or “father” in Spanish, especially in terms of these diminutives. But don’t worry. If you’re called Pablito, that means they’re getting to know you better and they consider you part of the family as well.

In this article, you’ll learn how to talk about the Spanish family tree, go over some family in Spanish vocabulary, and read some Spanish sentences about family members to help you understand how it’s used! Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  1. Gender and Family Members in Spanish
  2. Family Tree in Spanish
  3. Terms for Relatives
  4. Family Member Terms as a Married Person
  5. Endearment Terms to Name Family Members in Spanish
  6. Spanish Idioms about Family Members
  7. Fun Facts to Help You Learn Spanish
  8. Polysemy of Words in the Spanish Language
  9. Conclusion: Let SpanishPod101 Help You Master Spanish!

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1. Gender and Family Members in Spanish

Parents Phrases

When learning Spanish, it’s vital to know that Spanish is a phonetic language: every single letter is pronounced. Like English, Spanish may be considered an easy language to learn. As a beginner, you may be surprised to find that there are rarely any surprises in spelling or pronunciation. Spanish is also considered the second most spoken language in the world because it’s spoken in about twenty-one countries today; it has millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain.

So before we begin talking about things like how to describe family in Spanish, we’ll go over some basic rules you should know.

1- O and A

Knowing how to correctly name family members in Spanish begins with realizing that Spanish is grammatically gendered. Spanish nouns are classified as either masculine (often ending in -o) or feminine (often ending in -a).

One example of this difference between English and Spanish is when you use the masculine and the feminine primo and prima. In English, “cousin” is used for both male and female cousins, whereas in Spanish they differ by the ending vowel (-o or -a).

Example:

  • Primo = “Male cousin”
    • Yo tengo un primo que se llama Alejandro.
    • “I have a cousin named Alejandro.”
  • Prima = “Female cousin”
    • Mi prima se llama Andrea.
    • “I have a cousin named Andrea.”

An exception is:

  • Marido = “Husband”
  • Esposa = “Wife”

Note that its feminine form is not marida.

Another difference between English and Spanish is how you refer to both male and female siblings. The masculine-sounding Los hermanos in Spanish refers to both your brothers and sisters, whereas “siblings” is a gender-neutral word.

Example:
Yo tengo dos hermanos: José y Mónica.
“I have two siblings: José and Mónica.”

2- Masculine and Feminine Articles

The use of articles when you’re talking about a family member in Spanish also helps new learners understand gender use in Spanish.

Female articles: La, las, una, unas.
Male articles: El, los, un, unos.

Example:
La prima de Juan se llama Andrea.
“Juan’s cousin is Andrea.”

Example:
Juana es la nuera de mi madre.
“Juana is my mother’s daughter-in-law.”


2. Family Tree in Spanish

Family Words

If you’re a beginner in Spanish, one of the best ways to practice is by talking about your family (and extended family) in Spanish. Family reunions in Spain and Latin-America are a strong part of their culture, so if you’re ever invited to a family party, here are some questions you may ask when practicing your Spanish. But first, some must-know terms for family members in Spanish and other Spanish family vocabulary.

  • Mi familia = “My family”
  • Abuela = “Grandmother”
    • Example:
      ¿Cómo se llama tu abuela?
      “What is your grandmother’s name?”
  • Abuelo = “Grandfather”
    • Example:
      ¿En qué trabaja tu abuelo?
      “What does your grandfather do?”
  • Madre = “Mother”
    • Example:
      ¿Cuántos años tiene tu madre?
      “How old is your mother?”
  • Padre = “Father”
    • Example:
      ¿Dónde vive tu padre?
      “Where does your father live?”
  • Hermano = “Brother”
    • Example:
      ¿Tu hermano tiene hijos?
      “Does your brother have any children?”
  • Hermana = “Sister”
      Example:
      ¿A qué se dedica tu hermana?
      “What does your sister do for a living?”


3. Terms for Relatives

Once you’ve got the family tree in Spanish, including its vocabulary and Spanish use of gender, you can continue the conversation. Here are some questions your may be asked by “relatives” (parientes or familiares), and some more family vocabulary:

  • Tío = “Uncle”
    • Example:
      ¿Tu cuántos tíos tienes por parte de tu madre?
      “How many uncles do you have on your mother’s side?”
  • Tía = “Aunt”
    • Example:
      ¿Es Miryam la tía más joven que tiene Abigail?
      “Is Miryam the youngest aunt that Abigail has?”
  • Primo = “Male cousin”
    • Example:
      ¿Cuántos años tiene tu primo Alejandro?
      “How old is your cousin Alejandro?”
  • Prima = “Female cousin”
    • Example:
      Yo tengo una prima que se llama Andrea.
      “I have a cousin named Andrea.”
  • Sobrina = “Niece”
  • Sobrino = “Nephew”
    • Example:
      ¿Tú tienes sobrinos?
      “Do you have any nieces or nephews?”


4. Family Member Terms as a Married Person

Newlywed Couple

  • La familia política = “The in-laws.” It refers to the people that one is related to through marriage.
  • Cuñado = “Brother-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi cuñado me ha prestado su coche.
      “My brother-in-law lent me his car.”
  • Cuñada = “Sister-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi cuñada está muy enamorada de mi hermano.
      “My sister-in-law is very much in love with my brother.”
  • Yerno = “Son-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi yerno es abogado.
      “My son-in-law is a lawyer.”
  • Nuera = “Daughter-in-law”
    • Example:
      ¿Cómo se dice nuera en Español?
      “How do you say daughter-in-law in Spanish?”
  • Suegra = “Mother-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi suegra cocina muy bien.
      “My mother-in-law is a great cook.”
  • Suegro = “Father-in-law”
    • Example:
      El suegro de mi hermana es muy amable.
      “My sister’s father-in-law is very kind.”

Unlike in English, in Spanish there are two terms to name the mother-/father-in-law of your son: consuegra or consuegro, respectively.

  • Consuegra = “Mother-in-law of your son”
    • Example:
      Mi consuegra cocina muy bien.
      “My son’s mother-in-law is a great cook.”
  • Consuegro = “Father-in-law of my son”
    • Example:
      Mi consuegro es un funcionario público.
      “My son’s father-in-law is a public officer.”


5. Endearment Terms to Name Family Members in Spanish

Family Quotes

Your Spanish family members vocabulary won’t be complete until you know some of the most common endearment terms for different family members.

In Spanish, we use diminutive terms to name our loved ones. When learning Spanish, it’s very interesting to know that the use of diminutive words may mean that the relationship is very close. You just need to add the suffix -ito to the end of the word.

Example:

  • Abuelito instead of abuelo (or “grandpa” in English)
  • Tita instead of tía (or “aunt” in English).

Some relatives can be named in two ways. For example, you can use padre/papá for “father” in Spanish and madre/mamá for “mother” in Spanish. Generally, kids name their mother mamá and their father papá. Mamá and papá should have an accent on the last vowel, otherwise they mean something different.

Ways to name your mother with affection:
Ma
Mamá
Amá

Ways to name your father with affection:
Pa
Papá
Apá

Ways to name your grandfather with affection:
Yayo
Abuelito
Abu

Ways to name your grandmother with affection:
Yaya
Nana
Abuelita
Abu


6. Spanish Idioms about Family Members

Family at the Mall

If you’ve been learning Spanish for some time now, and you would like to take your learning to the next level, we’ll present you with the most common Spanish idioms that involve family members.

If you take the English expression “like father, like son,” note that in Spanish, you can use the expression de tal palo tal astilla which means exactly the same thing. Expressions in the Spanish language are based on culture; they should never be translated literally, so be careful because they vary among all native Spanish speakers.

Idioms like the ones below always give a fresh and different touch to the conversation, and are a great sign that you’re ready for the next level of learning. Enjoy the ride!

1- Parece que no tienes abuela

Literal translation:
“It seems that you don’t have a grandmother.”

Meaning:
When someone has a high opinion of themselves, you can say: Parece que no tienes abuela. Why? Grandmothers normally praise their grandchildren, so this expression is used to say that someone doesn’t need a grandmother because they praise themselves instead.

Example:
A: La noche del viernes me corté el pelo de tal manera que todas las chicas a mi alrededor iban girándose por la calle y admirando mi melena.

B: Vaya Juan… ¡parece que no tienes abuela!

—–

A: “Friday night I got a haircut in such a way that all the girls around me were doing double takes on the street and admiring my beautiful hair.”

B: “Waoo Juan…it seems that you don’t need a grandmother!”

2- Salirse de madre

Literal translation:
“To get out of mother.”

Meaning:
This phrase is used when excess of something is involved. “Do you know when is enough?” could be a rough English equivalent. In fact, its origin goes back to when it rained so much that the rivers overflowed.

Example:
La fiesta en casa de Alberto empezó bien hasta que nos bebimos 3 copas y se salió de madre
“The party at Alberto’s house was fine till we had three drinks and it got out of mother.”

3- Ciento y la madre

Literal translation:
“A hundred and the mother.”

Meaning:
This expression is used when an area is very crowded, so you don’t know how many people there are.

Example:
Vinieron todos los amigos de Lorenzo y eran ciento y la madre.
“When all of Lorenzo’s friends came, they were a hundred and the mother.”

4- Cuando seas padre, comerás huevos

Literal translation:
“When you are a father you will eat eggs.”

Meaning:
In Spain, you can use this expression when someone doesn’t have enough experience in something; perhaps he/she is too young or just lacks knowledge. This expression relates to the past, when eggs were a very appreciated food. In fact, the father was the only one who was able to have eggs at all, so when his children asked for eggs, the mother used to say: “When you’re a father, you’ll eat eggs.”

Example:
A: Mami, mañana me gustaría volver a las tres de la mañana con el resto de mis amigos.
B: No hijo, a la una como siempre. Cuando seas padre comerás huevos.

A: “Mum, I would like to come back home tomorrow at three a.m. with the rest of my friends.”
B: “No dear, at one a.m. as always. When you are a father you will eat eggs.”

5- Éramos pocos y parió la abuela

Literal translation:
“We were few and the grandmother gave birth.”

Meaning:
This is the Spanish translation of Murphy’s Law. When everything is going wrong, and suddenly even more bad things happen, you can say: Éramos pocos y parió la abuela.

Example:
¡Éramos pocos y parió la abuela! No tuve suficiente con que se me rompiera el coche sino que además también tuve que cambiar la cerradura de casa porque me dejé las llaves dentro.

“We were few and the grandmother gave birth! It wasn’t enough when my car broke down, I also had to change my house’s lock because I left my keys inside.”


7. Fun Facts to Help You Learn Spanish

Father and Son

Terms like amigovio or follamigo are allowed by the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE). However, keep in mind that they’re used colloquially to refer to a person with whom one has a romantic or sexual relationship. It’s not formal. In English, this would be a “friend with benefits.” Amigovios is used more in Latin- American countries, and follamigo in Spain.

Amigo (friend) + Novio (boyfriend) = Amigovio
Follar (“f***) + Amigo (friend) = Follamigo

Example:
Somos amigovios.
“We are just friends with benefits.”


8. Polysemy of Words in the Spanish Language

When learning Spanish, polysemic words are a common problem for beginners who are discovering new vocabulary, because a word with several meanings is normally used for context-specific purposes. We have to admit that when learning a new language, it’s very funny when understanding that esposas means both “wives” and “handcuffs.”

  • Esposas = “Handcuffs”
    • Example:
      El policía tiene un par de esposas.
      “The police officer has a pair of handcuffs.”
  • Esposa = “Wife”
    • Example:
      Los cristianos no pueden tener muchas esposas.
      “Christians cannot have multiple wives.”
  • Gemelos = “Twin”
    • Example:
      Mi amigo Andrés tiene un gemelo.
      “My friend Andres has a twin.”
  • Gemelo = “Calf muscle”
    • Example:
      Me duelen los gemelos después de ir al gimnasio.
      “My calf muscles hurt after the gym.”
  • Gemelos = “Opera glasses”
    • Example:
      Para ir a ver ópera hay que llevar gemelos sino no podrás ver nada.
      “To go to the opera you must bring your binoculars, otherwise you will not see anything.”
  • Gemelos = “Cufflinks”
    • Example:
      Voy a comprarle a mi padre un par de gemelos para su cumpleaños.
      “I am going to buy my father a pair of cufflinks for his birthday.”


9. Conclusion: Let SpanishPod101 Help You Master Spanish!

So next time you’re at a party and encounter a Spanish speaker, you should ask about their family; there’s no better ice breaker, don’t you agree? They enjoy talking about their extended families. You can also download our Family and Relatives Cheat Sheet for free and have it on hand for any questions you may have!

SpanishPod101 has prepared a list of useful Spanish gender pronouns to help you establish a conversation about family members for your studies.

SpanishPod101 has many vocabulary lists available on our website for you to consult for free, and of course our Spanish Resource Corner for any other questions you may have. Why don’t you prepare a self-introduction, including your family members, in the comment section below?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Family Phrases in Spanish

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