Family

Family in French
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Famille

One of the interesting things about la famille and French family vocabulary is that the word parent means not just "parent" as in mother or father, but also "relative." It can be both a noun and an adjective.

Par exemple…

J’ai un parent à Lille.
I have a relative in Lille.

Nous sommes parents par mon père.
We’re related on my father’s side.

La famille

brother un frère   sister une sœur
father un père   mother une mère
son un fils   daughter une fille
husband
spouse
un mari
un époux
  wife
spouse
une femme
une épouse
uncle un oncle   aunt une tante
nephew un neveu   niece une nièce
cousin – male un cousin   cousin – female une cousine
grandfather un grand-père   grandmother une grand-mère
great grandfather arrière-grand-père   great grandmother arrière-grand-mère
grandson un petit-fils   granddaughter une petite-fille
great grandson arrière-petit-fils   great granddaughter arrière-petite-fille

 For twins, triplets, etc., see the "multiple births" section of Multiplicative numbers.

extended family   la famille étendue
blended family   la famille recomposée

Family by marriage ~ Famille par alliance

In French, there’s no distinction between step-family and family-in-law: they are both equivalent to beau- or belle- plus that family member.

step-father
father-in-law
beau-père   step-mother
mother-in-law
belle-mère
step-brother
brother-in-law
beau-frère   step-sister
sister-in-law
belle-sœur
step-son
son-in-law
beau-fils   step-daughter
daughter-in-law
belle-fille
         
But there are some additional terms for in-laws:
in-laws les beaux-parents, la belle-famille
son-in-law le gendre  daughter-in-law la bru

  What’s the difference?

For the non-native English speakers out there:

Step-family (Famille recomposée) has to do with a spouse who has children from a previous partnership:

  • My father’s new wife is my step-mother (belle-mère) and I am her step-daughter (belle-fille)
  • My step-mother’s son is my step-brother (beau-frère) and I am his step-sister (belle-sœur)
  • A child born to my father and step-mother is my half-brother (demi-frère) or half-sister (demi-sœur)
  • My new husband’s daughter is my step-daughter (belle-fille) and I am her step-mother (belle-mère)

Family-in-law is your spouse’s family and the family of your sibling’s spouse:

  • My husband’s mother is my mother-in-law (belle-mère) and I am her daughter-in-law (belle-fille or bru)
  • My husband’s brother is my brother-in-law (beau-frère) and I am his sister-in-law (belle-sœur)
  • My sister’s husband is my brother-in-law (beau-frère) and I am his sister-in-law (belle-sœur)
  • My son’s wife is my daughter-in-law (belle-fille or bru) and I am her mother-in-law (belle-mère)

Other Family Matters

Adoptive Family ~ Famille adoptive

biological father père biologique   biological mother mère biologique
adoptive father père adoptif   adoptive mother mère adoptive
adopted son fils adoptif   adopted daughter fille adoptive

Foster Family ~ Famille nourricière / Famille d’accueil

foster father père nourricier / d’accueil
foster mother mère nourricière / d’accueil
foster child enfant placé dans une famille

Godparents and Godchildren

godfather parrain   godmother marraine
godson filleul   goddaughter filleule (pronounced like filleul)

 Related features

PwLF grammar quiz

French lesson plans French lesson plans

Learn Spanish En español

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Family in French
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4 Responses

  1. David Shireby 13 December 2017 / 6:07

    in Greek there is word “cinco” for your opposite in law (of either gender) I don’t suppose French has such a word?

    • lkl 13 December 2017 / 10:38

      No, I’ve never heard of a word like that.

  2. Warren Schalm 17 October 2017 / 12:45

    Is there a word for extended family such as “the relatives” in English, or is “la famille” used equally for immediate family and distant relatives that you may have not seen for many years? If there is only the one word, it would seem that additional clarification must generally be provided, in both discussion and written correspondence, in order to provide context and avoid confusion.

    • lkl 20 October 2017 / 7:29

      Yes, there’s la famille étendue – I’ve added it. Merci !