Chinese families are usually close-knit and you may get to meet various aunties and uncles, cousins and other relatives. Be sure you know how to get the right name for the right relative—although we know it’s not always easy!
In this Podcast you will learn:
1) How to identify the extended family
2) The different ways between Chinese and other languages about expressions for Chinese members
Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:
爷爷：Grandfather (Father’s side)
奶奶：Grandmother (Father’s side)
姑姑: Father’s sister
姑父: Husband of Father’s sister
伯伯：Father’s older brother
叔叔：Father’s younger brother
婶妈／婶娘：Wife of Father’s brother
姥爷：Grandfather (Mother’s side); this word is used in the northern part of China; in the south, people will usually use 外公
姥姥：Grandmother (Mother’s side): this word is used in the northern part of China; in the south, people will usually use 外婆
Cultural note: in China, 大姨妈 is also an informal expression for a woman’s monthly period.
Eg. 我的大姨妈要来了literally means “my mother’s sister is coming”, but it also means “my period is coming”.
姨父：Husband of Mother’s sister
舅舅：Mother’s brother Peers’ Generation Father’s Side:
堂哥：Older Male Cousin
堂姐：Older Female Cousin
堂弟：Younger Male Cousin
堂妹：Younger Female Cousin Mother’s Side:
表哥：Older Male Cousin
表姐：Older Female Cousin
表弟：Younger Male Cousin
表妹：Younger Female Cousin
岳父: Wife’s Father
岳母: Wife’s Mother
婆婆：Husband’s Mother Note: in many families, people just call father-in-law and mother-in-law the same names as their husband and wife do.
Cultural note: If you feel this is complicated, you are not alone. Even native Chinese will feel confused sometimes. Though we try to provide you with standard expressions, keep in mind there are different expressions for family members in different parts of China. It’s wise to just ask other Chinese what you should call someone for the occasion, and they will be happy to help you out.