Family Members in French

Family Members in French

It’s time to talk about some French family vocabulary. For many, learning vocabulary in a foreign language can be difficult because there isn’t always an equivalent in English or whatever your native language is. However when it comes to family-related French vocabulary things line up much better than they do in many other situations.

Let’s first take a look at some of the most common family vocabulary that every French learner will need to know.


French Family Members

Une mère – Mom / Mum / Mother

Un père – Dad / Father

Un frère – Brother

Une soeur – Sister

Une fille – Daughter

Un fils – Son

Un cousin – Cousin (m)

Une cousine – Cousin (f)

Une tante – Aunt

Un oncle – Uncle

Une nièce – Niece

Un neveu – Nephew

Un époux / Un mari – Husband

Une épouse / Une femme – Wife

Un grand-père – Grandfather

Une grand-mère – Grandmother

Un petit-fils – Grandson

Une petite-fille – Granddaughter

We’ll discuss extended cousins in a bit, but if you want to stress that a cousin is a first cousin and not a second/third/etc.. you can say cousin(e) germain(e). Otherwise just saying cousin(e) is fine.

Now that we’ve gone over the ones that are the most common let’s look at some of the family members that people don’t talk about as much.

Un arrière-grand-père – Great grandfather

Une arrière-grand-mère – Great grandmother

Un arrière-petit-fils – Great grandson

Une arrière-petite-fille – Great granddaughter

Un jumeau – Twin (m)

Une jumelle – Twin (f)

La belle-famille / les beaux-parents – in-laws

Un beau-père – Step-father / Father-in-law

Une belle-mère – Step-mother / Mother-in-law

Un beau-frère – Step-brother / Brother-in-law

Une belle-soeur – Step-sister / Sister-in-law

Un beau-fils / Un gendre – Step-son / Son-in-law

Une belle-fille / Une bru – Step-daughter / Daughter-in-law

Quick Sidenote: You’ll notice that in French there is no difference between step-family and family by marriage. For example step-brother and brother-in-law are the exact same words. The only exceptions to this are un gendre which ONLY means son-in-law and une bru which ONLY means daughter-in-law.

If you want to refer to your extended family as a whole you would refer to them as la famille étendue.

If you would like to talk about a blended family (a family in which the parents have children from previous relationships) then you can say la famille recomposée.

Now let’s look at some more obscure family members that really aren’t spoken about very often.

Foster Family in French

Une famille d’accueil / Une Famille nourricière – Foster family

Une mère d’accueil / Une mère nourricière – Foster mother

Un père d’accueil / Un père nourricier – Foster father

Un enfant placé en famille d’accueil – Foster child

Godparents in French

Une marraine – Godmother

Un parrain – Godfather

Un filleul – Godson

Une filleule – Goddaughter

Adoptive/Adopted family in French

Un fils adoptif – Adopted son

Un père adoptif – Adoptive father 

Une fille adoptive – Adopted daughter

Une mère adoptive – Adoptive mother

Although most people will just refer to their parents as père/mère regardless of whether they are adoptive or not, if you are trying to stress that certain parents are birth parents and NOT adoptive you can say père/mère biologique (biological father/mother.)

Extended Cousins in French

We’ve already talked about how to say “cousin” in French. Now let’s take a look at some of the different types of cousins one can have.

Un petit cousin / Un cousin au deuxième degré / Un cousin issu de germain – Second cousin (m)

Une petite cousine / Une cousine au deuxième degré / Une cousine issue de germain – Second cousin (f)

Un cousin au troisième degré / Arrière petit cousin – Third cousin (m)

Une cousine au troisième degré / Arrière petite cousine – Third cousin (f)

Un cousin au quatrième degré / Arrière arrière petit cousin – Fourth cousin (m)

Une cousine au quatrième degré / Arrière arrière petite cousine – Fourth cousin (f)

Un cousin germain éloigné au premier degré – First cousin once removed (m)

Une cousine germaine éloigée au premier degré – First cousin once removed (f)

Un petit cousin éloigné au deuxième degré – Second cousin twice removed (m)

Une petite cousine éloignée au deuxième degré – Second cousin twice removed (f)

Determining exactly where a cousin lies in your family tree can be difficult. For that reason it’s not uncommon for people just use cousin(e) éloigné(e) for anything that’s too complicated. This is not unlike in English where we often say distant cousin.

Hopefully with this guide you’ll be at least one step closer to mastering family member vocabulary in French. What other family members do you know? Comment below!