Talk About Your Family in Spanish: Vocabulary and Conversation Starters
Can you imagine what life would be like without your family? No way! No matter how annoying your little brother can be or naggy your mom can get sometimes, the fact is—family is amazing. Whether we like it or not, our family defines who we are from the beginning.
Every time we start making a new friend, what’s the one thing we’re likely to talk about? That’s right, our family! In this blog post, you’ll learn how to talk about your family in Spanish using all sorts of new vocabulary words, useful verbs, and solid grammar tips.
¡Hablemos de la familia!
Members of the Family
Who’s your favorite family member? Does your funny uncle come to mind? Or your super creative sister? Whoever it is, you’ll want to know how to refer to them in your Spanish conversation by knowing los miembros de la familia.
|la familia directa||immediate family||fah-mee-lyah dee-rekt-ah|
|el esposo, el marido||husband||ay-spoh-soh, mah-ree-doh|
Extended Family and Relatives
|los parientes lejanos||extended family||pah-ree-en-tays lay-ha-nose|
|el tío abuelo||great-uncle||tee-oh ah-bway-loh|
|la tía abuela||great-aunt||tee-ah ah-bway-lah|
|el primo||cousin (male)||pree-moh|
|la prima||cousin (female)||pree-mah|
|el concuñado||husband of one’s spouse’s sister||kone-koon-yah-doh|
|la concuñada||wife of one’s spouse’s brother||kone-koon-yah-dah|
|el consuegro||father-in-law of one’s son or daughter||kone-sway-groh|
|la consuegra||mother-in-law of one’s son or daughter||kone-sway-grah|
|el medio hermano, hermano de padre, hermano de madre||half brother||may-dyoh air-mah-noh|
|la media hermana, hermana de padre, hermana de madre||half sister||may-dyoh air-mah-nah|
|el compadre||godfather to one’s child||kome-pah-dray|
|el comadre||godmother to one’s child||ko-mah-dray|
Don’t Mix ‘Em Up
A tricky false cognate in Spanish is los parientes, which looks like it could mean “parents,” but it actually means “relatives.” If you’re talking about your parents, you say los padres.
Mis padres viven cerca. – My parents live nearby.
Tengo parientes en Guatemala. – I have relatives in Guatemala.
Another curious detail to remember is that you say los hermanos to mean “siblings,” meanwhile el hermano is brother and la hermana is sister. Clearly, if you only have sisters, you’d say mis hermanas, which would make it obvious that you’re not referring to a brother.
Tengo seis hermanos. – I have six siblings.
Mis hermanas viven conmigo. – My sisters live with me.
Lastly, while padrino (madrina) and compadre (comadre) seem to have similar definitions, they are not the same thing. A padrino is in relation to the child, while the compadre is in relation to the child’s parents. In other words, a father and the godfather of his child are compadres.
Tío Roberto es mi padrino. – Uncle Roberto is my godfather.
Te presento a mi comadre. – I present to you the godmother of my kids.
Verbs to Talk About Family in Spanish
The key to talking about your family goes beyond just knowing their names in Spanish. You need verbs to bring action and descriptors into your conversations! The most interesting aspects of our family members are what they do, where they are, and how their personalities are. Let’s go over some basics.
The three most crucial verbs to know at the beginning are tener, ser, and estar. While talking about your family with Spanish speakers, you’ll hear endless other verbs, but you can start mastering these three.
Use ser for Professions and Personality
In order to talk about los profesiones o la personalidad de los miembros de tu familia, you’ll need to master the conjugation of the verb ser.
Not there yet? Check out this in-depth guide on how to use the verb ser.
For now, you can practice with some of these example conversations!
¿En qué trabaja tu hermano? – What does your brother do for work?
Mi hermano es cocinero. – My brother is a cook.
¿A qué se dedicaba tu abuela? – What did you grandma do for work?
Mi abuela era enfermera. – My grandma was a nurse.
¿Qué hace tu papá? – What does your dad do?
Mi papá es ingeniero. – My dad is an engineer.
¿Cómo es tu tía? – What’s your aunt like?
Mi tía es muy tímida. – My aunt is really shy.
¿Te cae bien tu primo? – Do you like your cousin?
Si, mi primo es divertido. – Yes, my cousin is fun.
Use tener for Quantities and Age
The verb tener means “to have,” and it’s used similarly in English when you say “I have a creative grandfather.” Contrarily to English, this verb also describes age in Spanish, which translates literally to “My sister has 15 years,” but you’re actually saying that she’s 15.
See our guide on how to use tener, ser, and estar in different ways for more details!
¿Cuántos primos tienes? – How many cousins do you have?
Tengo doce primos en total. – I have 12 cousins in all.
¿Cuántos años tienen tus hijos? – How old are your kids?
Mi hija tiene 2 años y mi hijo tiene 5 años. – My daughter is 2 years old and my son is 5 years old.
Use estar for Temporary States of Being
Estar is the verb you use to express how your family member is feeling, where they live, or something that they’re currently doing.
¿Dónde está tu nieta? – Where is your granddaughter?
Mi nieta está en Chile con su esposo. – My granddaughter is in Chile with her husband.
¿Cómo está tu bisabuelo? – How is your great-grandfather doing?
Él está bien de salud. – He is in good health.
Although (supposedly) not a temporary state, being dead is described with the verb estar. For example:
¿Qué tal está tu cuñado? – How is your brother-in-law?
Tristamente, él está muerto. – Sadly, he’s dead.
Have a Conversation About Family in Spanish
While talking to Spanish-speaking friends or traveling abroad, these useful phrases will give you the tools you need to have conversations where you learn about each other’s family in Spanish!
¿Cómo se llama tu __________?
What’s your __________’s name?
Él/ella se llama __________.
His/her name is __________.
¿En qué trabaja él/ella?
What does he/she do?
Él/ella es __________.
He/she is a/an __________.
¿Cuántos años tiene él/ella?
How old is he/she?
Él/ella tiene __________ años.
He/she is __________ years old.
¿Dónde vive tu __________? (él/ella) ¿Dónde viven sus __________? (ellos/ellas)
Where does your__________ live? (Where does he/she live?) Where do your __________ live? (Where do they live?)
Él/ella vive en __________. / Ellos/ellas viven en __________.
He/she lives in __________. / They live in __________.
¿Tiene hijos él/ella?
Does he/she have children?
Sí, él/ella tiene ____ hijos. / No, él/ella no tiene hijos.
Yes, he/she has ____ children. / No, he/she doesn’t have children.
Start Talking About Your Family in Spanish Today!
Talking about your family in Spanish is a rewarding way to improve your fluency and get to know new friends! If you’d like to give it a try right away, our professional, Spanish-speaking teachers are online ready to have a conversation with you! Sign up for a free trial class today to see how fast, effective, and fun it can be to talk to native Spanish speakers about your family!
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