Do you want to learn the French family words? In this post we go through all the vocabulary for talking about family in French. We’ll start with words for the immediate family and extended family members, and then move on to couple situations and to more complex familial relationships.

We’ve broken this post down into the main groups of French family words, each with their own headings, so you can easily scroll through and find the vocabulary you’re looking for. Now let’s get started!

Kids and parents in French

Let’s begin with the words for the closest family members in French. We’ll start with the immediate family, and then give vocab lists for talking about kids.

Immediate family members in French

In French, the immediate family is considered la famille proche.

la famille the family
un ménage a household (Québec)
les parents the parents
un père a father
une mère a mother
les enfants the children, the kids
un fils a son
une fille a daughter
un frère a brother
une soeur a sister


Note that there’s no single word for siblings in French. Instead, people just refer to brothers and sisters:

  • As-tu des frères et sœurs ? – Do you have siblings?

Another important difference is that in French, while the word parent usually refers to mother and father, it also encompasses any other extended family members by blood or by marriage. In everyday French, however, this concept is usually expressed with the term la parenté, meaning relatives or family relations. Des liens de parenté are family ties.

  • As-tu de la parenté aux États-Unis ? – Do you have relatives in the United States?
  • Oui, j’ai un parent à Boston. Ma tante! – Yes, I have a relative in Boston. My aunt!
  • Je crois que, du côté de mon père, j’ai des liens de parenté avec Benjamin Franklin. – I think that on my dad’s side, I’m related to Benjamin Franklin.

We also included the Canadian French word ménage on this vocab list, which translates as household, used to describe the people living under one roof. While this can often refer to a family unit, a household can also be comprised of a single person or of a bunch of unrelated housemates. This word doesn’t really exist in France.

Twins and Triplets

In French, there are masculine, feminine, and plural forms of each word for twins and triplets.

les jumeaux twin boys
les jumelles twin girls
un jumeau a twin boy
une jumelle a twin girl
les triplés triplets
les triplées, les triplettes triplets [all girls]


You’ll also likely hear the word jumelles used in another context than for twin girls: it also means binoculars.

The eldest and youngest children in a family

In French, we have specific words to designate the position of a child in a family. While the English translations of first, middle, or last can be used in French, you’ll sound more like native speaker if you use these terms. These words can be used both as nouns and adjectives.

l’aîné, l’aînée the oldest child
le cadet, la cadette a younger or a middle child
le benjamin, la benjamine the youngest child
  • Mon frère aîné est allé à l’Université à Paris l’année dernière. – My eldest brother went to University in Paris last year.
  • Ma sœur cadette n’est pas du tout gentille. – My younger sister isn’t nice at all.
  • En tant que benjamin de la famille, j’ai toujours hérité les vêtements de mes frères aînés. – As the youngest in the family, I always inherited my older brothers’ clothes.

Extended family in French

Now we’re ready to learn the French family words for the extended family. We’ll start with the close family that we’re related to through our parents, and then learn the terms for grandparent relationships.

Note that in France, there’s no broad term for the extended family like in English. It rather goes the other way, with la famille referring to the extended family, while for the close family we saw above we use the direct translation: la famille proche. In Québec, however, with its influence from the English language, it’s common to use the direct translation of the extended family: la famille élargie.

Uncles, aunts, and cousins in French

la famille élargie the extended family (Québec)
un arbre généalogique a family tree
un oncle an uncle
une tante an aunt
un cousin a male cousin
une cousine a female cousin
un neveu a nephew
une nièce a niece


Just like in English, there’s no differentiation in these terms to differentiate whether we’re related through our father or our mother. The only difference to note is that there are separate words for male and female cousins.

  • Mon cousin est gentil et sympa. – My [male] cousin is nice and fun.
  • Ma cousine est grande et sportive. – My [female] cousin is tall and athletic.

Grandparents and grandchildren in French

une génération a generation
les grand-parents the grandparents
un grand-père a grandfather
une grand-mère a grandmother
les petits-enfants the grandchildren
un petit-fils a grandson
une petite-fille a granddaughter

Great-grandparents and great-grandchildren in French

les arrière-grand-parents the great-grandparents
un arrière-grand-père a great-grandfather
une arrière-grand-mère a great-grandmother
les arrière-petits-enfants the great-grandchildren
un arrière-petit-fils a great-grandson
une arrière-petite-fille a great-granddaughter


Just like in English with great, in French we can just keep adding arrière to count the generations in the relationship.

  • Mon arrière-arrière-arrière-arrière-grand-père était envoyé à la guillotine durant la révolution. – My great-great-great-great-grandfather was sent to the guillotine during the revolution.

Couples in French

There’s definitely more than just husband and wife when we think couples. Let’s learn the main vocab for talking about common couple situations in French.

un couple a couple
une famille monoparentale a single-parent family
un couple marié a married couple
un couple hétéro a hetero couple
un couple gai a gay couple
un couple lesbien, un couple de lesbiennes a lesbian couple
conjoints de fait common-law partners (Québec)
un couple pacsé a common-law couple (France)
un mari a husband
une femme a wife
un époux a male spouse
une épouse a female spouse
un conjoint, une conjointe a committed partner
un copain a boyfriend
une copine a girlfriend
un amant a [male] lover
une amante a [female] lover
une maîtresse a [female] lover on the side
une aventure an affair
un divorcé a divorced man
une divorcée a divorced woman
un veuf a widower
une veuve a widow

As long as we’re talking couples, you may also be interested our other posts where we introduce 10 sweet French terms of endearment, and all the nuances to saying I love you in French.

Family by marriage

We gain new family ties through marriage, which you refer to as in-laws in English. On the other hand, when our parents remarry you refer to the new relationships in English as your step family. In French, however, we use the same vocabulary to describe both of these situations.

la famille par alliance family by marriage
un famille recomposée a blended family
les beaux-parents the in-laws
la belle-famille the in-laws
un beau-père a father-in-law, step-father
une belle-mère a mother-in-law, step-mother
un beau-fils a son-in-law, step-son
une belle-fille a daughter-in-law, step-daughter
le gendre the son-in-law
la bru the daughter-in-law
un beau-frère a brother-in-law, step-brother
une belle-soeur a sister-in-law, step-sister
un demi-frère a half-brother
une demi-soeur a half-sister
  • Mon mari ne s’entend pas avec sa mère, ma belle-mère. – My husband doesn’t get along with his mom, my mother-in-law.
  • Ma mère se marie à mon nouveau beau-père le dix octobre. – My mom is getting married to my new step-father on the 10th of October.
  • Ma nouvelle belle-sœur va vivre dans notre maison après le mariage. – My new step-sister is going to live in our house after the marriage.
  • Ma mère et mon beau-père ont un nouveau fils. Il est mon demi-frère. – My mom and my step-father have a new son. He is my half-brother.

Biological and adoptive families

Like in English, we have a few French adjectives to describe families through adoption or foster care.

un père biologique a biological father
une mère biologique a biological mother
un père adoptif an adoptive father
une mère adoptive an adoptive mother
un fils adoptif an adopted son
une fille adoptive an adopted daughter
un père nourricier a foster father
une mère nourricière a foster mother
les parents d’accueil foster parents
une famille d’accueil a foster family
un enfant placé dans une famille a foster child


Une famille d’accueil or les parents d’accueil can also refer to homestay families for foreign or cultural exchange students. Une famille d’accueil is also used to refer to households that welcome refugees into their home.

Godparents and Godchildren

As a historically Catholic society, it’s still quite common for French families to designate godparents for their children.

un parrain a godfather
une marraine a godmother
un filleul a godson
une filleule a goddaughter
le baptême the baptism


Stemming from this traditional term, un parrain is also used in French to refer to a professional mentor. The French verb parrainer means to mentor.

French nicknames for family members

Just as in English where you’re likely to refer to family members using informal nicknames like mom and dad rather than saying mother and father, the same phenomenon of informal French family words exists in French.

It seems there are even more options used for grandparents, especially grandmothers, who depending on the family are referred to as grandma, granma, grammy, gammie, gaga, mimi, or even memaw in English. It would be impossible to include all the possibilities for grandma in French, but our list at least includes some of the most common informal words used for French family members.

father papa
mother maman
grandpa papi
grandma mamie, mémé, mémère
uncle tonton
aunt tata, tatie
children gosses, gamins, mômes
brother frérot, frangin
sister frangine


There you have it, we’ve now covered all the French family words!

We started off with the basics, talking about our immediate family along with the different ways to refer to our siblings in French. Then we moved on to the extended family, including how to talk about grandparents and grandchildren through the generations.

We had a whole section on how to refer to couple situations in French, extending well beyond the traditional marriage. Then came the sections on how to refer to other family compositions, whether through marriage, remarriage, adoption, or baptism.

Finally, we finished up by listing some of the common informal nicknames used by native speakers to address their various family members in French. With that, you now have a full-on intro to all the different family words in French for anyone you want to refer to!

We know this was a lot of vocab at once for talking about la famille, so we recommend bookmarking this page or even sharing it if you or anyone you know may want to refer back to it. We hope you appreciate this post on how to talk about family in French!

Keep Reading

French texting abbreviations: The definitive guide
The French Infinitive: How to recognize and use the basic verb form
Joyeux Anniversaire: How to Say Happy Birthday in French