Comparison of kinship between Chinese and English

In terms of kinship, English only distinguishes gender and does not distinguish between old and young. And generally, blood relationship and marital relationship are not distinguished.

In Chinese, these kinship terms are strictly distinguished

Parents’ generation

Basic vocabulary:Father and Mother, They all have many nicknames, and here we only choose the most formal vocabulary.
Father = 父亲,Mother = 母亲。

If married, Parents of spouses, referred to as father-in-law and mother-in-law
Husband’s Father = 公公,Husband’s Mother = 婆婆。
Wife’s Father = 岳父,Wife’s Mother = 岳母。

If parents have brothers and sisters, they are only differentiated by gender in English. Parents’ brothers are called uncles, and parents’ sisters are called aunts.

In Chinese, it will be distinguished by age, gender, and marital relationship.

Father’s side

  • Father’s elder brother = 伯伯,His wife is called 伯娘。
  • Father’s younger brother = 叔叔,His wife is called 婶婶。
  • Father’s sisters = 姑妈,Her husband is called 姑父。

Mother’s side

  • Mother’s brother = 舅舅,His wife is called 舅妈。
  • Mother’s sisters = 姨妈,Her husband is called 姨父。

Same generation

In English, only brothers and sisters, and children of uncles or aunts are called cousins.

In Chinese, first of all, according to age:

  • 哥哥,Brother who is older than you
  • 弟弟,Brother who is younger than you
  • 姐姐,Sister who is older than you
  • 妹妹,Sister who is younger than you

If they are the children of your father’s brothers, It is called “堂”, 堂哥,堂弟,堂姐,堂妹。Because everyone has the same surname.

The others are all referred to as “表”,表哥,表弟,表姐,表妹。They are subdivided into “姑表”, “舅表”, and “姨表”。It is clearly distinguished according to the relationship of the previous generation.

Next generation

In English, only gender is distinguished, divided into nephews and nieces.

In Chinese, it is necessary to distinguish based on the relationship between parents.

The brother’s son is called 侄子, and the brother’s daughter is called 侄女.

The sister’s son is called 外甥. Sister’s daughter is called 外甥女.

Three generations

Grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter.

In Chinese,they have very precise similarities. But a distinction was made based on blood relationship.

  • 祖父 or 爷爷(Father’s Father)
  • 祖母 or 奶奶(Father’s Mother)
  • 孙子(Son’s Son)
  • 孙女(Son’s Daughter)
  • 外公 or 姥爷(Mother’s Father)
  • 外婆 or 姥姥(Mother’s Father)
  • 外孙(Daughter’s Son)
  • 外孙女(Daughter’s Daughter)