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How to talk about family in Spanish

Let’s learn the most common Spanish words for family members, including, “brother”, “sister”, “mother”, and “father”. We’ll also get lots of spoken practice with all these words.

Full Podcast Episode


La familia.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Let’s learn some new nouns that will help us talk about people in Spanish, especially words for family members.

We’ll begin by learning the word for “family”, which is the feminine noun familia. For example:

He loves my family.

Él quiere a mi familia.

The word for “father” is padre and the word for “mother” is madre. For example:

My father is here, but not my mother.

Mi padre está aquí, pero mi madre no.

To talk about parents in general, you simply use padres. For example:

The parents do that sometimes.

Los padres hacen eso a veces.

When you talk about one individual parent, madre and padre are slightly formal, kind of like the words “mother” and “father” in English; the more informal words for “mom” and “dad” are mamá and papá, with an accent mark on the last “a” in each case. Mamá and papá. For example:

My dad doesn’t know where my mom went.

Mi papá no sabe adónde fue mi mamá.

Let’s practice these words.

I knew she was her mother.

Yo sabía que era su madre.

If I knew where my dad is, I could do that.

Si supiera dónde está mi papá, podría hacer eso.

I knew my parents were here.

Sabía que mis padres estaban aquí.

My mom and I (f) are the ones who do that in the family.

Mi mamá y yo somos las que hacen eso en la familia.

My father can do it better.

Mi padre lo puede hacer mejor.

Now, of course, if someone is a parent, that means they have children, or at least one child. The word for “children” in Spanish is hijos, spelled h-i-j-o-s, with a silent H. Hijos. This word specifically means “children” as in “sons and daughters”; it doesn’t mean young children, because it can easily refer to someone who is grown. For example:

The man and the woman are his children.

El hombre y la mujer son sus hijos.

We can drop the S from hijos to get the word for a single child, by default a son. And then hija specifically means “daughter”. For example, here’s something that a new grandparent might say:

My son has a new daughter.

Mi hijo tiene una nueva hija.

The word for “brother” is hermano, and the word for “sister” is hermana. These words are both spelled with a silent H at the beginning. And then the word for “siblings”, in general, is hermanos. For example:

I have three siblings: A sister and two brothers.

Tengo tres hermanos: una hermana y dos hermanos.

And then the word for “spouse” is esposo; by default, this is translated as “husband”, and the feminine version, the word for “wife”, is esposa. For example:

My brother’s wife is here.

La esposa de mi hermano está aquí.

Let’s practice all of these words.

My brother would know that he is his son.

Mi hermano sabría que él es su hijo.

I have known that she is his wife.

He sabido que ella es su esposa.

My sister and her husband have two children.

Mi hermana y su esposo tienen dos hijos.

If I knew where my brothers are, I would tell it to my daughter.

Si supiera dónde están mis hermanos, se lo I would tell a mi hija.

Si supiera dónde están mis hermanos, se lo diría a mi hija.

Next, let’s talk about some words for children in Spanish. We’ve already learned the words chico and chica, which mean “boy” or “girl”, in general. These words are not super specific about age. If you want to be very clear that you’re talking about a young boy or girl, you’ll use niño or niña, especially if the person you’re talking about is younger than a teenager. For example:

I can’t go, I have to be at home with the children.

No puedo ir, tengo que estar en casa con los niños.

And then for someone very young, you’ll use the word bebé, which means “baby”. This can be either masculine or feminine. For example:

This baby is the child’s new sister.

Esta bebé es la nueva hermana del niño.

We have two more words for people to learn. First of all, in some countries, the most common word for “dude” or “guy” is tipo. We already learned that this word can be used to refer to a “type” or “kind” of something, but it also has this other meaning. For example:

That dude didn’t know who she was.

Ese tipo no sabía quién era ella.

Our last word is a very important one. In Spanish spoken all over the world, one of the most common ways to say “people” is by using the word gente, spelled g-e-n-t-e. Gente. This is a singular feminine noun. For example:

No, the people aren’t here anymore.

No, la gente ya no está aquí.

Notice that in the English sentence here, we said “aren’t here”, using the plural verb. But in Spanish, we used está rather than están. That’s because the word gente is always grammatically singular, not plural, even though it typically refers to more than one person! Here’s another example:

I don’t know why those people are here.

No sé por qué esa gente está aquí. 

So here we said esa gente, literally “that people”, rather than “those people”. This will take some getting used to, so let’s do a bit of quizzing to practice this, as well as our words for “baby” and “little kids”.

That guy went with those people.

Ese tipo fue con esa gente.

The kids are with the baby.

Los niños están con el bebé.

The little boy and the little girl know how to do that.

El niño y la niña saben hacer eso.

Where are those people going?

¿Adónde va esa gente?

They didn’t know there were a lot of people.

No sabían que había mucha gente.

Before we go on to today’s final quiz, let’s learn a few more idioms that involve subjunctives. Check out this sentence:

I can do whatever I want.

Puedo hacer lo que quiera.

So we have the subjunctive form quiera after lo que. If this sentence were puedo hacer lo que quiero, that would simply mean “I can do what I want”, referring specifically to one thing. But by saying lo que quiera, I’m changing the meaning to something more indefinite, and it’s translated into English as “whatever I want”.

Here’s another example, using a different subjunctive of Querer. In this one the speaker is talking to a group of people.

You (all) know you can’t do whatever you want.

Ustedes saben que no pueden hacer lo que quieran.

Another important idiom that uses subjunctives is the phrase sea lo que sea. This would literally translate to something like “be what it be”, but it’s a common way to say “whatever it is” in Spanish. For example:

Whatever it is, it’s something good.

Sea lo que sea, es algo bueno.

You can also make this plural. For example:

Whatever they are, I want them.

Sean lo que sean, los quiero.

Let’s practice these idioms.

Whatever they are, they are mine.

Sean lo que sean, son míos.

He will do whatever he wants.

Hará lo que quiera.

Whatever it is, I want it.

Sea lo que sea, lo quiero.

They’ll do whatever they want.

Harán lo que quieran.

Another idiom that uses the subjunctive is the phrase o sea. This would translate literally as “or it be”, but it’s a common way to say “I mean” or “that is”, specifically to reword something you’ve just said. For example:

He’s my friend — that is, he’s like my brother.

Es mi amigo, o sea, es como mi hermano.

Here’s another example:

We went there a few days ago — that is, three days ago.

Fuimos ahí hace unos días — o sea, hace tres días.

Our last idiom is que yo sepa, literally “that I know”, using a subjunctive of Saber. This is how you say “as far as I know” in Spanish. For example:

As far as I know, there’s nobody else.

Que yo sepa, no hay nadie más.

Let’s practice this.

As far as I know, it is between them.

Que yo sepa, es entre ellos.

He wants to go, that is, you have to invite him.

Él quiere ir, o sea, lo tienes que invite.

Él quiere ir, o sea, lo tienes que invitar.

As far as I know, that’s the truth, that is, it’s not a lie.

Que yo sepa, esa es la verdad, o sea, no es a lie.

Que yo sepa, esa es la verdad, o sea, no es una mentira.

Remember you can get more practice with any of this at LCSPocdast.com/79. But if you feel ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

My mother said I can have whatever I want.

Mi madre said que puedo tener lo que quiera.

Mi madre dijo que puedo tener lo que quiera.

Her husband knew it and you will know it too.

Su esposo lo sabía y tú lo sabrás también.

The mother and the baby were here.

La madre y el bebé estaban aquí.

As far as I know, my son didn’t do it.

Que yo sepa, mi hijo no lo hizo.

I want him to know what you have under the bed.

Quiero que él sepa qué tienes bajo the bed.

Quiero que él sepa qué tienes bajo la cama.

I was going toward the north, that is, toward Canada.

Iba hacia the north, o sea, hacia Canada.

Iba hacia el norte, o sea, hacia Canadá.

My mom and my sister want to know what we knew.

Mi mamá y mi hermana quieren saber lo que sabíamos.

I know that the boy and the brother will know what to do.

Sé que el niño y su hermano sabrán qué hacer.

The father found out that this was yours.

El padre supo que esto era tuyo.

He will know she is opposed to them.

Sabrá que ella está en contra de ellos.

Did you know this was his?

¿Sabías que esto era suyo?

His wife said that she would be with her husband.

Su esposa dijo que estaría con su esposo.

Whatever it is, we’ll solve it as a family.

Sea lo que sea, lo we’ll solve como una familia.

Sea lo que sea, lo resolveremos como una familia.

We’ll know if he’ll have whatever he wants.

Sabremos si tendrá lo que quiera.

I found out that there were people where my brother was.

Supe que había gente donde estaba mi hermano.

We know we’ll give our daughter whatever she wants.

Sabemos que le we’ll give a nuestra hija lo que quiera.

Sabemos que le daremos a nuestra hija lo que quiera.

I want you to know what dad has here.

Quiero que sepas lo que papá tiene aquí.

I’m not sure(f) he knows what you know.

No estoy segura de que sepa lo que tú sabes.

He wants us to know whose the baby is.

Quiere que sepamos de quién es el bebé.

That little boy is sure that you would know it.

Ese niño está seguro de que tú lo sabrías.

My mom said that the people would know this is mine.

Mi mamá said que la gente sabría que esto es mío.

Mi mamá dijo que la gente sabría que esto es mío.

Her father clapped during the play.

Su padre clapped durante the play.

Su padre aplaudió durante la obra.

I’ve been here since this morning, that is, for three hours.

He estado aquí desde la mañana, o sea, por tres horas.

That guy’s sister and his dad went there.

La hermana y el papá de ese tipo fueron ahí.

The little girl walked from that place.

La niña walked desde ese lugar.

La niña caminó desde ese lugar.

I don’t think there is anyone here.

No I think que haya nadie aquí.

No creo que haya nadie aquí.

We would know if that guy were here.

Sabríamos si ese tipo estuviera aquí.

I wanted there to be more people.

Quería que hubiera más gente.

He doesn’t know; if he knew, he would be against his son.

No lo sabe; si lo supiera, estaría contra su hijo.

That little girl is with that family.

Esa niña está con esa familia.

As far as I know, there was a problem that day.

Que yo sepa, hubo un problema ese día.

I will know if they did it without him.

Sabré si lo hicieron sin él.

Her daughter was born three years ago.

Su hija was born hace tres años.

Su hija nació hace tres años.

Whatever it is, it’s on top of the house.

Sea lo que sea, está sobre la casa.

If you knew the lyrics, you could sing.

Si supieras the lyrics, podrías sing.

Si supieras la letra, podrías cantar.

His wife and his daughter would know it.

Su esposa y su hija lo sabrían.

He doesn’t want them to know it.

Él no quiere que lo sepan.

If they knew how to do it, we wouldn’t be here.

Si supieran hacerlo, no estaríamos aquí.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/79.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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