Family in French
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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

Close relations, next of kin = les proches

brotherun frère sisterune sœur
fatherun père motherune mère
sonun fils daughterune fille
un mari
un époux
une femme
une épouse
uncleun oncle auntune tante
nephewun neveu nieceune nièce
cousin – maleun cousin cousin – femaleune cousine
grandfatherun grand-père grandmotherune grand-mère
great grandfatherarrière-grand-père great grandmotherarrière-grand-mère
grandsonun petit-fils granddaughterune petite-fille
great grandsonarrière-petit-fils great granddaughterarrière-petite-fille

Special family terms

Un aîné / une aînée can refer to an older brother/sister, the oldest brother/sister, or the first-born son/daughter.

Un cadet / une cadette can refer to a younger brother/sister or the second-born son/daughter in a family.

Le benjamin / la benjamine is the youngest child in a family.

 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.

beau-père step-mother
beau-frère step-sister
beau-fils step-daughter
But there are some additional terms for in-laws:
in-lawsles beaux-parents, la belle-famille

le gendre

 daughter-in-lawla 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 fatherpère biologique biological mothermère biologique
adoptive fatherpère adoptif adoptive mothermère adoptive
adopted sonfils adoptif adopted daughterfille adoptive

Foster Family ~ Famille nourricière / Famille d’accueil

foster fatherpère nourricier / d’accueil
foster mothermère nourricière / d’accueil
foster childenfant placé dans une famille

Godparents and Godchildren

godfatherparrain godmothermarraine
godsonfilleul goddaughterfilleule (pronounced like filleul)

 Related features

PwLF grammar quiz

French lesson plans French lesson plans

Learn Spanish En español

Learn Italian In italiano

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Family in French

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2 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?