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“Come stanno tua madre e le tue sorelle…e tuo padre? Come sta la tua famiglia?” I asked, laughing.
He smiled, “Mia madre sta benissimo, è arrivata a Roma ieri sera e una delle mie sorelle ha partorito il mese scorso.”
My face lit up, “Davvero? Che bello! È una femmina o un maschio?”
He took out his phone and began to show me pictures, “È una femmina.”
If you have Italian friends or are making small talk with Italians, it’s likely that family is going to pop up somewhere in the mix.
They’ll either be asking you if you have any siblings or children and like in the conversation I had above, you might be asking them about how their family is doing.
Below you’ll find some vocabulary words + examples of family members.
Il fratello – brother
— Ieri sera, ho visto i tuoi fratelli. – Yesterday I saw your brothers.
— Vado d’accordo con tuo fratello, mi piace! – I get along well with your brother, I like him!
La sorella – sister
— Hai incontrato mia sorella? – Have you met my sister?
— Non so cosa farei senza mia sorella! – I don’t know what would I do without my sister!
La madre/mamma – mother
— Ho la mamma migliore del mondo! – I’ve got the best mom in the world!
— Quando arriva la sera mi manca sempre mia madre. – When it’s night I always miss my mom.
CPF: When you’re in Italy, eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on in and you’ll often hear people picking up the phone and saying “Ciao mamma!”
Il padre/il papà – father
— Mio papà è appena andato in pensione. – My father just went into retirement.
— Ho imparato a radermi guardando il mio babbo. – I learned how to shave from watching my dad.
— Mio papà mi ha insegnato ad andare in bici. – My dad taught me how to ride a bike.
Lo zio – uncle
La zia – aunt
— I miei zii di Roma sono a casa mia. – My aunt and uncle from Rome are at my home.
— Lei è mia zia Lorena, sorella di mia madre. – She’s my aunt Lorena, my mom’s sister.
— Tutti mi dicono che assomiglio a mio zio. – Everybody tell me I look like my uncle.
Il nonno – grandfather
— Mio nonno è nato a Verona, ma è cresciuto a Roma. – My grandfather was born in Verona but he grew up in Rome.
— Questo è mio nonno da parte di padre. – This is my grandfather from my dad’s side.
La nonna – grandmother
— Da bambina, mia nonna cucinava una pasta buonissima. – Since she was a kid, my grandmother cooked really good pasta.
— La mia nonna è cresciuta in tempo di guerra. – My grandmother grew up during the war.
— I ricordi più belli li ho con mia nonna. – The best memories I have are those with my grandmother.
Il suocero – father-in-law
La suocera – mother-in-law
— Adoro i miei suoceri!! – I love my parents-in-law!!
— Non sopporto mia suocera! – I can’t stand my mother-in-law!
— Mio suocero fa il tassista. – My father-in-law is a taxi driver.
CPF: When I was in Civita di Bagnoregio there were these spices called “amazzasuocera”, and when I asked the sales lady why they were called that she said it was because they were so spicy that they would kill your mother-in-law.
Il cugino – (male) cousin
La cugina – (female) cousin
— I miei cugini sono di Napoli. – My cousins are from Napoli.
— Mia cugina è come una sorella per me. – My cousin is like a sister to me.
If they’re asking you about your family, here are some phrases you might hear:
(These are written in the informal.)
— Hai dei figli? – Do you have kids?
— Sei sposato/a? – Are you married?
— Hai fratelli o sorelle? – Do you have brothers or sisters?
— Hai una famiglia numerosa! – You have a big family.
You can reply with:
— Ho tre figli – una femmina e due maschi. – I have three kids – one girl and two boys.
— No, sono figlia unica. – I’m an only child. (feminine)
— No, sono figlio unico. – I’m an only child. (masculine)
— Sì, ho quattro sorelle e tre fratelli. – Yes, I have four sisters and three brothers.
Talking about family requires that you have a pretty good handle on how to use possession (mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, ours), so make sure that you get some practice in on how to use it.
Some quick grammar points:
1.) When you talk about a singular family member, like one brother, you don’t have to use the article (il, la, lo). You can just say “mio fratello” – my brother
2.) When you talk about plural family members, you must use the article (i, gli, le). You can say “le mie sorelle” – my sisters
3.) In order, the words you use to show possession are:
— Mio – my
— Tuo – yours
— Suo – his/hers
— Nostro – ours
— Vostro – yours (plural)
— Loro – Theirs
Want a more in-depth overview? Read this:
Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives in Italian (or how to talk about what’s yours)