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:

Senior Generation:

Father’s Side

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

Senior Generation:

Mother’s Side

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

姨妈:Mother’s sister

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

公公:Husband’s Father

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.


Yes! I’d like to learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively

Narrated by Song Liu

Our Podcast narrator, is a native Chinese speaker and is originally from Beijing, China and is keen to help you get ahead with learning. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Master of Arts in Communication Studies. Song also hosted a Mandarin live call-in news and music radio show in the Bay Area.

  • Trevor

    Would it be possible to get the pinyin? Love all the information but I don’t read hanzi very well. Thanks, and I do really enjoy your podcasts.