= Nee maggie obachan!
= Hey, Auntie Maggie!
= Obachan tte yobanai deyo!
= Don’t call me Auntie!
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)
= 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,
• 兄 = ani = older brother
• 姉 = ane = older sister
• 弟 =otouto = younger brother
• 妹 = imouto = younger sister
= 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 兄 ( = ani), 姉 ( = ane ).
= 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 弟 = otouto or 妹= 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?
= 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
(more polite) お兄様 = oniisama (formal)
•お姉さん = oneesan = older sister
(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
•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.
= 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
★When you refer your in-laws, you say,
•義理の = “giri no” means “in-laws”
•義理の父 = giri no chichi = father-in-law
Note, you would read these same words as お義父さん= “otousan” when addressing him directly.
•舅 = shuuto = father-in-law
when you refer to others’ fathers-in-law, お舅さん = oshuuto san
•義理の母 = giri no haha = mother-in-law
Note, you would read these same words as お義母さん= “okaasan” when addressing her directly.
•姑 = shuuto /shuutome= mother-in-law
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
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
You call her お義姉さん= oneesan
•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.
= 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
You call him お義兄さん= oniisan
• 義理の弟 = giri no otouto = younger brother-in-law
Usually you call him by his first name with さん= san or 君 = kun (君= kun is more friendly)
★How you refer to your daughter/son-in-law：
•嫁 = yome =daughter-in-law
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.)
You call her by her first name + さん(=san)
• 婿 = muko = son-in-law
more friendly お婿さん = omuko san
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 for 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 嫁 = yome = daughter-in-law VS 姑 = shuutome = mother-in-law when they live in the same house (同居 = doukyo = living together). There 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)
husband and wife
•夫婦 = fuufu = married couple
★When you refer to your own husband or wife formally, we say
•夫 = otto = husband
•妻 = tsuma = wife
= Otto wa ima kyuushoku chuu desu.
= My husband is between jobs.
•主人 = shujin = husband (The original mean is “a master”)
= 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)
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
= 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 tends 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)
= 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)
•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?
•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! Do you have a date with your husband?
★When you refer to other people’s wife,
• 奥さん = okusan
• 奥様 = okusama
= Iidesune mainichi okusama no tesryouri ga taberarete!
= That’s great that you can eat your wife’s home cooking every day!
Note : Because 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.
★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 to other people’s grandparents with respect.
•お祖父さん = ojiisan = grandpa
•お祖母さん = obaasan = grandma
•お祖父様 = ojiisama = grandfather
•お祖母様 = obaasama = grandmother
★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
★When you refer to your grandchild formally.
• 孫 = mago = grandchild
★When you refer to someone’s grandchild.
•お孫さん = omago san
great grandchildren :
★When you refer to your great-grandchild formally.
• ひ孫 = himago= great grandchild
Other relatives :
•親戚 = shinseki = relatives
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 ”お”= 伯 and 叔 : 伯父、伯母 are used when you refer to 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
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.
= 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.
= Ano oneesan kirei dane.
= That young lady is beautiful.
= Aaah, watashi mou obasan dashi..
= Oh well, I am an old woman now, so…
So be careful when and with whom you use
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 workplace, it is not appropriate to refer to young girls and boys with these words.
nephews and nieces :
★ When you refer to your own nephews or niece formally.
•甥 = oi = nephew
•姪 = mei = niece
•甥っ子 = oikko = nephew
• 姪っ子 = meikko = niece
= 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 君=kun (for boys). Sometimes we just use the first name without ちゃん=chan or 君=kun or with their nicknames.
•従兄弟 = itoko = male cousin
•従姉妹 = itoko = female cousin
•はとこ = hatoko = second cousin
OK, that’s all for family family-related lesson!
= Watashi ga hyakusai ni natte mo zettai ni obasan nante yobanai deyo!
= Even if I turn 100 years old, NEVER call me obasan! OK?
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