Components

Grammar detail: family members

family members
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When communicating in Japanese, it is important that you are able to use the appropriate terms to refer to your own family members and the family members of others.
When referring to one's own family members, in most cases it is best to use the following terms:
  • そぼ
    grandmother
  • そふ
    grandfather
  • はは
    mother
  • ちち
    father
  • あに
    older brother
  • あね
    older sister
  • おとうと
    younger brother
  • いもうと
    younger sister
While these terms are used to refer to one's own family members, when speaking about these family members within the family, with very close friends and with children it would be more common to use the terms introduced below. It is also worth noting that Japanese children are more likely to use the terms below, up until they reach around high-school age.
When someone addresses their mother or father, in most cases they would say お
とう
さん and お
かあ
さん. Similarly they would address their grandmother or grandfather 'おさん' and 'おさん'. When addressing one's older brother or sister 'お
にい
さん', 'お
ねえ
さん' is used, rather than the sibling's name. ちゃん may replace さん in many cases and is a term of endearment. However, younger siblings are addressed by their names.
Families will also often address grandparents as ばあば (granny / gran / nan etc) じいじ (grandpa / gramps etc). These terms express a greater sense of closeness and affection.
These days Japanese children, up to the age of around 10 or 11, often refer to their parents as ママ (Mom / Mama) and パパ (Dad / Papa) and adults are heard more often using these terms when speaking to children about their parents.
When referring to other people's family members, the following terms are used:
  • ばあ
    さんgrandmother
  • じい
    さん grandfather
  • かあ
    さんmother
  • とう
    さん father
  • にい
    さん older brother
  • ねえ
    さん older sister
  • おとうと
    さん younger brother
  • いもうと
    さん younger sister
Some of these terms can also be used to refer to people who are not related to the speaker. For example, お
じい
さん is a common (and perfectly polite) way to refer to an elderly gentleman.
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Words used in this grammar

grandmother  (see also: )
(click the word to view an additional 4 readings)
4
2
TEST
1. grandfather
2. old man  (see also: ; this meaning is restricted to reading おおじ)
(click the word to view an additional 5 readings and 1 meaning)
4
1
TEST
noun
mother  (see also: ; かか was used by children; humble)
(click the word to view an additional 5 readings)
1
TEST
noun
father  (see also: ; とと and ちゃん are used by children; humble)
(click the word to view an additional 7 readings)
1
TEST
noun
elder brother; older brother  (humble)
5
2
TEST
noun
older sister; elder sister  (humble)
(click the word to view an additional 2 forms)
5
2
TEST
noun
1. younger brother; little brother; kid brother  (humble)
2. pupil; apprentice  (archaic; this meaning is restricted to reading てい)
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5
1
TEST
noun
younger sister  (humble)
5
2
TEST
noun
1. grandmother  (see also: 祖母さん; usu. お祖母さん; often written with kana only)
2. old woman; female senior citizen  (see also: 婆さん; usu. お婆さん; often written with kana only)
(click the word to view an additional 9 forms)
1
6
TEST
noun
1. grandfather  (see also: 祖父さん; usu. お祖父さん; often written with kana only)
2. male senior-citizen  (usu. お爺さん; often written with kana only)
(click the word to view an additional 4 forms)
1
7
TEST
noun
mother  (see also: 母さん; honorific)
(click the word to view an additional 2 forms)
5
3
TEST
noun
father; dad; papa; pa; pop; daddy; dada  (see also: 父さん; honorific)
(click the word to view an additional 1 reading and 2 forms)
5
3
TEST
noun
1. older brother; elder brother  (see also: 兄さん; honorific)
2. (vocative) young man; buddy; fella; laddie
(click the word to view an additional 2 forms)
5
5
TEST
noun
1. elder sister  (see also: 姉さん; usu. お姉さん; honorific)
2. (vocative) young lady  (see also: 姉さん)
(click the word to view an additional 3 meanings and 4 forms)
5
4
TEST
noun
younger brother  (honorific)
9
TEST
noun
younger sister  (honorific)
9
TEST

Kanji used in this grammar

ソ    ancestor   
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3
ボ   はは mother   
1
フ   ちち father   
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1
ケイ   キョウ   elder brother; brother   あに elder brother   
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2
シ   あね elder sister   
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2
ダイ   テイ   デ   おとうと younger brother   
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2
マイ   いもうと younger sister   
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2
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