How to talk about family in German
Published on February 16, 2023 / Updated on January 3, 2024
Making small talk is essential for learning a new language and integrating into a new country. And there’s no better way to get to know others and understand a country’s culture than by talking about family. Talking about your family in German will not only help you practice your language skills. It will also teach you about an important aspect of German culture.
From immediate relatives to step siblings and everything in between, there are many German words to describe different familial relations. But don’t worry — we have you covered! With the lists below, you can get a head start on learning and memorizing the most important German vocabulary about family.
Immediate family members include the people you’re immediately related to — for example, your parents and siblings. Unlike in some other cultures, Germans typically only live together with their immediate family, rather than with a large group of extended family members.
|der Vater (formal)
|die Mutter (formal)
|der Papa (informal)
|die Mama (informal)
|the only child
Of course, your family can also include extended family, such as your grandparents or in-laws. German naturally has words for these relations, as well. Notice that, as with parents, there are both formal and informal names for grandparents.
|die Großmutter (formal)
|der Großvater (formal)
|die Oma (informal)
|der Opa (informal)
|the female cousin
|the male cousin
|die Urgroßmutter (formal)
|der Urgroßvater (formal)
|die Uroma (informal)
|der Uropa (informal)
The definition of “family” continues to expand, in Germany as well as in other cultures. With this in mind, there may be other people who are considered family in German, such as step-siblings or life partners.
To help with your memorization, notice that many of these words share a similar prefix. Learning these common prefixes can come in handy whether you’re describing a life partner (prefix: Lebens-) or a step relation (prefix: Stief-).
|the male life partner
|the female life partner
|the blended family
Especially when applying for a visa, changing tax classes or signing up for social benefits, you may need to specify your marital status. You may also need to describe which members of your family live in your household. Here’s a list of some key nouns and adjectives to get you started.
|the marital status
|the single parent
Now that you can name all the family members and describe their various relations, it may help to learn some typical questions to ask about the family. The following questions and answers can get you a long way in making conversation.
|Hast du Geschwister?
|Do you have siblings?
|Wie alt sind deine Eltern?
|How old are your parents?
|Hast du Cousins?
|Do you have cousins?
|Wie groß ist deine Familie?
|How big is your family?
|Ich habe zwei Geschwister: einen Bruder und eine Schwester.
|I have two siblings: a brother and a sister.
|Ich bin das jüngste/älteste Kind.
|I am the youngest/oldest child.
When you’re moving or even just traveling abroad, you may find yourself missing your family a lot. In moments like these, sharing memories about your loved ones with new friends can help you cope. It doesn’t hurt that it also helps with practicing German. Whether you’re talking about immediate or extended family, you’ll have plenty to speak about with these vocabulary lists. Study up, and you’ll be fluent in German in no time!