Family related lesson Part 2

February 10, 2011 in Beginners


= Nee maggie obachan!

= Hey, Auntie Maggie!


= Obachan tte yobanai deyo!

= Don’t call me Auntie!

Hi everyone!

In my previous lesson we learned family related Japanese (parents + children). But we’re not done yet! There is much more to learn.

Are you ready? OK! Today we’ll start with,


Siblings (brothers and sisters): 兄弟姉妹 (= kyoudai shimai)

兄弟 = kyoudai = brother(s)

(Kyoudai literally means “brothers” but a lot of time it is used to say “brothers and sisters” as well.)

Ex. 何人兄弟ですか?(or 兄弟は何人いますか?)

= Nannin kyoudai desuka? (or Kyoudai wa nannin imasuka?)

= How many brothers (or sisters) do you have?

= Kyoudai genka suru.
= to fight between brothers.(or sisters)

Ex. 兄弟が欲しい。

= Kyoudai ga hoshii.

= I want a brother or sister.

姉妹 = shimai = sister(s)

Ex. 四人姉妹 = yonin shimai = four sisters

Ex. 仲良し姉妹 = nakayoshi shimai = close sisters

★When you talk about your family with other people, you refer to them as,

= ani = older brother

= ane = older sister

=otouto = younger brother

= imouto = younger sister

Ex. 私の兄は今、東京に住んでいます。

= Watashi no ani wa ima Tokyo ni sunde imasu.

= My older brother lives in Tokyo now.

Note : Although you are close to that person, you don’t address their older brothers or older sisters  (= ani), (= ane ).

!BUBU! あなたの兄はどこに住んでいますか?

= Anata no ani wa dokoni sunde imasu ka?

= Where does your older brother live?

But if you are close to that person (usually the same age or older) you may address their younger brother or younger sister as = otouto or = imouto

Ex. お前の妹かわいいな。(male talk : rough)

= Omae no imouto kawaiina.

= Your younger sister is cute, isn’t she?

Ex. 昨日、マギーの妹を見かけたよ。

= Kinou Maggie no imouto wo mikaketayo.

= (talking to Maggie) I saw your sister yesterday.

★ Usually you address other people’s siblings:

お兄さん = oniisan = older brother

:rrrr: (more polite)お兄様 = oniisama  (formal)

お姉さん = oneesan = older sister

:rrrr: (more polite) お姉様 = oneesama  (formal)

弟さん = otouto san = younger brother

妹さん = imouto san = younger sister

★How you address your own siblings or siblings of someone close to you:

You can address your own older siblings

お姉さん = oneesan =older sister or お兄さん = oniisan

You can also call them

姉さん = neesan  = older sister

兄さん = niisan = older brother

More casual


お姉ちゃん = oneechan  = older sister, Sis.

お兄ちゃん = oniichan = older brother, Bro.


姉ちゃん = neechan = older sister, Sis.



兄ちゃん = niichan = older brother, Bro.

Ex. お姉ちゃん、これ何?

= Oneechan kore nani?

= What’s this, Sis? (Talking to your older sister.)

Much more casual


姉貴= aneki = older sister, Sis

兄貴= aniki = older brother, Bro


Note 1  :

In western countries, it is very common to call your brothers and sisters by their first name. But in Japan, it is more common to call your older brothers and  sisters (お)兄さん (= (o)niisan)、(お)兄ちゃん (= (o)niichan)、(お)姉さん (= (o)neesan)、(お)姉ちゃん (= oneechan) and call your younger brothers and sisters by their first name. Parents, too, refer to the eldest son in the family as お兄ちゃん (= oniichan) and the oldest sister with お姉ちゃん (= oneechan) when they talk with their younger sons or daughters.

Ex. (When taking to their younger son. )


= Kouichi,  sore wa oniichan no dakara tabecha dame!

= Koichi! That’s your older brother’s so don’t eat it!

Note 2 :

Although these words are usually used only in a family setting, it is not unheard for some people to refer to young girls and boys that they do not actually know as お兄さん= oniisan、お姉さん =oneesan、お兄ちゃん= oniichan、お姉ちゃん = oneechan

Ex. (When talking to your child)


= Kippu wo Soko no oneesan ni watashi nasai.

= Give the ticket to the young lady there.

Ex. (When talking to a young male sales clerk at a store )


= Oniisan sore ikura?

= How much is it, son?


二人兄弟 = futari kyoudai = two brothers

兄弟が多い = kyoudai ga ooi = to have many brothers

双子 = futago = twins

双子のお兄さん = futago no oniisan = twin elder brother


:mm: In-laws:

★When you refer your in-laws, you say,

:rrrr:義理の = “giri no” means “in-laws”

義理の父 = giri no chichi = father-in-law



:rrrr: Note, you would read these same words as お義父さん= “otousan” when addressing him directly.


= shuuto = father-in-law

:rrrr: when you refer to others’ fathers-in-law, お舅さん = oshuuto san

義理の母 = giri no haha = mother-in-law

:rrrr: Note, you would read these same words as  お義母さん= “okaasan” when addressing her directly.


= shuuto /shuutome= mother-in-law

:rrrr: When you refer to others’ mothers-in-law お姑さん = oshuuto san / oshuutome san

義理の妹 = giri no imouto = younger sister-in-law

:rrrr:Usually you call her with her first name with さん(= san) or ちゃん(= chan) , (ちゃん(= chan) is more childish but friendly)

義理の姉 = giri no ane = older sister-in-law

:rrrr:You call her お義姉さん= oneesan

Note :

小舅 (= kojuuto) = brother-in-law & 小姑 = kojuuto(me) = sister-in-law

Sometimes we use 小姑 = kojuuto(me) = sister-in-law negatively.

So you should avoid saying that in front of your sister-in-law.

The literal meaning is “little mother-in-law” and it implies a type of sister-in-law who nitpicks and has an annoying personality — tending to butt into your personal affairs. Sometimes they still live with their parents.

Ex. 小姑みたいなまねやめて!

= Kojuuto mitaina mane yamete!

= Don’t be like “little mother-in-law”Don’t nitpick!

義理の兄 = giri no ani = older brother-in-law

:rrrr:You call him  お義兄さん= oniisan

義理の弟 = giri no otouto = younger brother-in-law

:rrrr:Usually you call him by his first name with さん= san or = kun  (= kun is more friendly)

★How you refer to your daughter/son-in-law:

= yome =daughter-in-law

:rrrr:more friendly お嫁さん = oyomesan

Ex. うちの嫁 = uchi no yome = our daughter-in-law

Ex. うちのお嫁さん= uchi no oyomesan = our daughter-in-law (sounds warmer than the former one.)

:rrrr: You call her by her first name + さん(=san)

婿 = muko = son-in-law

:rrrr: more friendly お婿さん = omuko san

:rrrr: You call him with his first name and asdd さん(=san)



Cultural Note : Who is going to take care of old parents in Japan :

Traditionally 長男 = chounan = a first-born son is responsible of taking care of his parents.
So if you marry a first-born son,  you are expected to eventually live with his parents and help take care of them.

So お嫁さん = oyomesan = daughter-in-law’s burden is immense because she also has to take care of her parents if she doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. And it is becoming a serious social problem.

It is very common to have conflicts between = yome = daughter-in-law VS = shuutome = mother-in-law when they live in the same house (同居 = doukyo = living together).  They are a lot of TV dramas based on this antagonistic relationship. (Ex. 渡る世間は鬼ばかり= Wataru seken wa oni bakari)


!star! husband and wife
夫婦 = fuufu = married couple

★When you refer your own husband or wife formally, we say

= otto = husband

= tsuma = wife

Ex. 夫は今、休職中です。
= Otto wa ima kyuushoku chuu desu.
= My husband is between jobs.


主人 = shujin = husband (The original mean is “a master”)

Ex. 主人に聞いてみます。

= Shujin ni kiite mimasu

= I will ask my husband.

亭主 = teishu

Ex. うちの亭主 = uchi no teishu = my husband (old fashioned. sounds a bit rough)

Ex. 亭主関白 = teishu kanpaku = chauvinistic / domineering husband

旦那 = danna

Ex. うちの旦那 = uchi no dannna = my husband (sounds a bit rough)

Also say,

:rrrr:うちの人 = uchi no hito = my husband

When you refer to your wife when speaking with other people.

家内 = kanai = my wife

Ex. 家内が、よろしく言っていました。
= Kanai ga yoroshiku itte imashita.
= My wife says hello to you.

うちのやつ = uchi no yatsu = my wife (humble)

ワイフ = waifu = my wife (It’s katakana but even the older generation tend to use this)

(僕の)奥さん = (boku no) okusan = my wife (Technically you shouldn’t useさん= san for your own family but this is a pretty common way to refer to their own wife)

女房 = nyoubou (old fashion)

Ex. 女房のやつ、今日は何もご飯を作ってくれなかった。(rough)

= Nyoubou no yatsu kyou wa nani mo gohan wo tsukutte kurenakatta.

= My wife didn’t cook for me at all.

★When you refer to other people’s husbands

御主人 = goshujin = someone’s husband (honorific)

more polite

:rrrr:御主人様 = goshujin sama (formal)

Ex. もしもし、御主人様はいらっしゃいますか? (on telephone)
=  Moshi moshi goshujin sama wa irasshaimasu ka?
= Hello, may I speak to your husband?

:rrrr:旦那様 = dannasama = your husband

Ex. いいわねえ、今日は旦那様とデート? (female speech)

= IIwanee kyou wa dannasama to deito?

= How envious! You have a date with your husband?

When you refer to other people’s wife,

奥さん = okusan

more polite

:rrrr:奥様 = okusama

Ex. いいですね、毎日、奥様の手料理が食べられて!
= Iidesune mainichi okusama no tesryouri ga taberarete!
= That’s great that you can eat your wife’s home-cooking every day!

Note : Because of the literal meaning of 家内 = kanai is “inside of the house” , 奥さん is a person who stays in the back of the house, 主人 = shujin = is “master” . These words may sound sexist, but they are still quite common in daily conversation.

:kkk: Grandparents :

★When you refer to your own grandparents formally :

祖父母 = sofubo = grandparents

祖父 = sofu = grandfather

祖母 = sobo = grandmother

★How you refer to your own grandparents (or grandparents of someone close to you):

casual and friendly way to call them.


おじいちゃん = ojiichan

おばあちゃん = obaachan

How to refer other people’s grandparents with respect.

お祖父さん = ojiisan = grandpa

お祖母さん = obaasan = grandma

more polite


お祖父様 = ojiisama = grandfather
お祖母様 = obaasama = grandmother

:s: great grand parents

★When you refer to your great grandparents formally.

曾祖父母 = sousofubo = great grandparents

曾祖父 = sousofu = great grandfather

曾祖母 = sousobo = great grandmother

★How you address or refer to your great grandparents of those of someone close to you.



ひいおばあさん = hiiobaasan = great grandfather

ひいおじいさん = hiiojiisan = great grandmother

:: grandchildren :

★When you refer to your grandchild formally.

= mago = grandchild

★When you refer to someone’s grandchild.

お孫さん = omago san

!carnation! great grandchildren :

★When you refer to your great grandchild formally.

ひ孫 = himago= great grand child

:kk: Other relatives :

親戚 = shinseki = relatives

!yflower! uncles and aunts :

★When you refer to your uncles and aunts formally.

叔父伯父= oji = uncle

叔母伯母 = oba = aunt

(There are two kanji for ””= and : 伯父伯母 are used when you refer your parents’ older siblings and 叔父 and 叔母 are used when you refer your parents’ younger siblings.)

★How you call your uncles or aunts

叔父さん伯父さん = ojisan = uncle

叔母さん伯母さん = obasan = aunt

more friendly (conversational):

叔父ちゃん伯父ちゃん = ojichan = uncle
叔母ちゃん伯母ちゃん = obachan = aunt

Note : Sometimes we add their first name

Ex.マギー叔母ちゃん = Maggie obachan = Antie Maggie

!tulip! From the picture above :

You see Maggie Sensei was offended when Iggy (The dog sitting right next to Maggie) called her マギーおばちゃん = Maggie obachan = Auntie Maggie.

「おばちゃんって呼ばないで よ!」

= Obachan tte yobanai deyo!

= Don’t call me Auntie!

You may have  heard children address adults おばさん( = obasan) or おばちゃん (= obachan), おじさん( = ojisan) or おじちゃん( = ojichan)  in a friendly manner. This is perfectable acceptable, but a lot of women got offended when they are calledおばさん( = obasan) or おばちゃん (= obachan) by strangers because おばさん= obasan implies they look older. They prefer to be called お姉さん = oneesan or お姉ちゃん = oneechan.

Ex. あのお姉さん、綺麗だね。

= Ano oneesan kirei dane.

= That young lady is beautiful.

Ex. あ〜あ、私、もうおばさんだし..

= Aaah, watashi mou obasan dashi..

= Oh well, I am an old woman  now so.

So be careful when and who you use with.

お姉さん/ちゃん (= oneesan/chan), お兄さん (= oniisan/chan) are used when you refer young girls or boys.

But in a work place, it is not appropriate to refer to young girls and boys with these words.

:w: nephews and nieces :

★ When you refer to your own nephews or niece formally.

= oi = nephew

= mei = niece

more friendly


甥っ子 = oikko = nephew

姪っ子 = meikko = niece

Ex. 甥っ子が来るから遊んであげないと…

= Oikko ga kuru kara asonde agenai to…

= Since my nephew is coming over, I have to play with him.

★How to call your own nephews and nieces:

Usually we call our own nephews and nieces by their first names usually adding ちゃん= chan (for girls and sometimes for boys) or =kun (for boys). Sometimes we just use the first name without ちゃん=chan or =kun or with their nicknames.


:s: cousins :

従兄弟 = itoko = male cousin

従姉妹 = itoko = female cousin

はとこ = hatoko = second cousin

OK, that’s all for family related lesson!

マギー先生より= Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei


= Watashi ga hyakusai ni natte mo zettai ni obasan nante yobanai deyo!

= Even if I turn 100 years old, NEVER call me obasan! OK?