Uki Uki NihonGO! Lesson 39 – Family Terms

August 4, 2016
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Today, we’ll study how to talk about family members in Japanese. This can be confusing because there are multiple ways to say one thing depending on the context. Let’s learn them by category.

The first rule to remember is that referring to your own family members versus someone else’s family members are very different.

To refer to someone else’s family members, you need to add さん to show respect.

トムさんの…(Tom-san no…)

お祖父さん (ojiisan) grandfather、お祖母さん (obaasan) grandmother、お父さん (otousan) father、お母さん (okaasan) mother、お兄さん (oniisan) older brother、お姉さん (oneesan) older sister、弟さん (otoutosan) younger brother、妹さん (imoutosan) younger sister、叔父さん (ojisan) uncle、叔母さん (obasan) aunt、甥っ子さん (oikkosan) nephew、姪っ子さん (meikkosan) niece

Also, ご家族 (gokazoku) family、ご両親 (goryoushin) parents、ご兄弟 (gokyoudai) siblings

Now, to refer to your own family members, you use a very different set of family terms. No さん is used here.

私の…(Watashi no…)

祖父 (sofu)、祖母 (sobo)、父 (chichi)、母 (haha)、兄 (ani)、姉 (ane)、弟 (otouto)、妹 (imouto)、叔父 (oji)、叔母 (oba)、甥 (oi)、姪 (mei)

家族 (kazoku)、両親 (ryoushin)、兄弟 (kyoudai)

These terms do sound shorter than the first set we looked at, but these don’t sound casual. You use them in a more professional or formal settings, such as at work or school.

Let’s try a short dialogue between two coworkers in the office.

ご兄弟は今日本のどちらですか? (Gokyoudai wa ima, Nihon no dochira desuka?) Where do your siblings live in Japan?

兄は福岡で、妹は京都にいます。(Ani wa Fukuoka de, ane wa Kyouto ni imasu.) My older brother is in Fukuoka, and my younger sister is in Kyoto.

Finally, here is how to directly address your family member. There are some vocabulary overwrap.

To call out to get their attention, you say:

お父さん!(otousan) or パパ (papa) Dad!

お母さん (okaasan) or ママ (mama) Mom!

お兄ちゃん (oniichan) Older brother!

お姉ちゃん (oneechan) Older sister!

With younger siblings, you address them by their name, e.g. 和也 (Kazuya) or リナ (Rina) or with nicknames e.g. カズくん (Kazu-kun) or リナちゃん (Rina-chan).

For more information on common nicknames, please check out the Uki Uki Lesson 6 video.

Here’s another short dialogue.

ご両親は、お元気ですか? (Goryoushin wa ogenki desuka?) How are your parents?

はい、おかげさまで父も母も元気です。(Hai, okagesamade chichi mo haha mo genki desu.) Both my father and my mother are doing well. Thanks for asking.

  • August 4, 2016 – August 4, 2016