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#LESSONOFTHEDAY – The Chinese Family Tree

In English, we mainly have to keep track of two things when it comes to family: generation and gender. For example, you say “grandma” for both your grandmothers on your dad’s side or mom’s side. To make things even easier, blanket terms like “cousin” can cover any family member who is a son or daughter of one of your parents’ siblings.
In Chinese, things become a lot more nuanced. In addition to keeping track of generation and gender, other factors such as maternal vs. paternal lineage, relative age, and married vs. blood all need to be considered. In this sense, the term “cousin” can be split eight different ways based on mom’s side vs. dad’s side, gender, and relative age!
If you are getting ready for your own Chinese family reunion, or if you just want to learn more about the intricacies of the Chinese family tree – read on for a quick refresher of Chinese kinship terms.

Your Immediate Family

Your Mom - 妈妈 (māma)
Your Dad - 爸爸 (bàba)
Your Wife - 妻子 (Qīzi) or 老婆 (lǎopó)
Your Husband - 丈夫 (Zhàngfū) or 老公 (lǎogōng)
Your older brother – 哥哥 (Gēgē)
Your older sister – 姐姐 (Jiějiě)
Your younger brother – 弟弟 (Dìdì)
Your younger sister – 妹妹 (Mèimei)
Your son – 儿子 (Érzi)
Your daughter - 女儿 (Nǚ'ér)

"Grandma" in Chinese

Grandmother on Dad’s side - 奶奶 (Nǎinai) 
Grandmother on Mom’s side -外婆 (wàipó)

"Grandpa" in Chinese

Grandfather on Dad’s side – 爷爷 (Yéyé)
Grandfather on Mom’s side – 外公 (wàigōng)

"Uncle" in Chinese

Dad’s older brother – 伯伯 (Bóbo)
Dad’s younger brother – 叔叔 (Shūshu)
Dad’s older sister’s husband - 姑夫 (Gūfū)
Dad’s younger sister’s husband - 姑夫 (Gūfū)
Mom’s older or younger brother -舅舅 (Jiùjiu)

"Aunt" In Chinese

Dad’s older sister – 姑妈 (Gūmā)
Dad’s younger sister - 姑姑 (Gūgū)
Dad’s older brother’s wife -伯母 (Bómǔ)
Dad’s younger brother’s wife -婶婶 (Shěnshěn)
Mom’s older sister - 姨妈 (Yímā)
Mom’s younger sister -阿姨 (Āyí)
Mom’s brother’s wife - 舅母 (Jiùmu)

"Cousin" In Chinese

Dad’s sibling’s son (if older than you) - 堂兄 (Táng xiōng)
Dad’s sibling’s son (if younger than you) - 堂弟 (Táng dì)
Dad’s sibling’s daughter (if older than you) - 堂姐 (Táng jiě)
Dad’s sibling’s daughter (if younger than you) - 堂妹 (Táng Mèi)
Mom’s sibling’s son (if older than you) –表哥 (Biǎo gē)
Mom’s sibling’s son (if younger than you) - 表弟 (Biǎo dì)
Mom’s sibling’s daughter (if older than you) -表姐 (Biǎo jiě)
Mom’s sibling’s daughter (if younger than you) -表妹 (Biǎo mèi)

"Nephew" In Chinese

Brother's son - 姪子 (zhízi)
Sister's son - 外甥 (wàishēng)

"Niece" In Chinese

Brother's daughter - 姪女 (zhínǚ)
Sister's daughter - 外甥女 (wàishengnǚ)

"Father-In-Law" In Chinese

Husband's father - 公公 (gōnggong)
Wife's father - 岳父 (yuèfù)

"Mother-In-Law" In Chinese

Husband's mother - 婆婆 (pópo)
Wife's mother - 岳母 (yuèmǔ)

"Brother-In-Law" In Chinese

Your older sister’s husband - 姐夫 (Jiěfū)
Your younger sister’s husband - 妹夫 (Mèifū)

"Sister-In-Law" In Chinese

Your older brother’s wife- 嫂子 (Sǎo zi)
Your younger brother’s wife - 弟妇 (Dìfù)