Family is important to us Brazilians. In this lesson you will learn family vocabulary in Portuguese. In the video for this lesson, I share pronunciation tips with you.
In addition, I tell you about differences in the use of some words that can cause trouble both to foreigners speaking Portuguese and to Brazilians speaking English. Hopefully the information that I will share with you here will help you avoid confusion.
Finally, I also share recent statistics about the Brazilian family that may surprise you.
You can turn a vocabulary lesson like this into a bigger and richer learning experience by following the tips I give you in my lesson called Learn Vocabulary Fast in Portuguese.
Family Members in Portuguese
The words below are not in alphabetical order because I tried to group them by relationship.
I indicate masculine words with (m) and feminine words with (f) below.
In some cases, you will see a word ending in “o/a” to indicate it has those two forms, one for masculine and one feminine.
Some words have only one form for both masculine and feminine. In this case, there is none of the notations above by the word.
In the video, I give you pronunciation tips.
EN – PT
- family = família (f)
- mother = mãe (f)
- single mom = mãe solteira (f)
- father = pai (m)
- wife = esposa, mulher (f)
- husband = esposo, marido (m)
- stepmother = madrasta (f)
- stepfather = padrasto (m)
- parents = pais (m)
- relative = parente
- daughter = filha (f)
- son = filho (m)
- stepdaughter = enteada (f)
- stepson = enteado (m)
- adopted = adotivo/a (the word adotivo comes after the family member’s word; e.g. filho adotivo, mãe adotiva)
- child/children = criança/crianças (f)
- oldest kid = o filho mais velho (m) / a filha mais velha (f)
- youngest kid = o/a caçula
- pet = animal de estimação (m) (yes, they absolutely are family members ♥)
- sister = irmã (f)
- brother = irmão (m)
- stepsister = meia-irmã (f)
- stepbrother = meio-irmão
- sibling = irmão (brother) / irmã (sister) /irmãos (brothers or brothers and sisters) /irmãs (sisters)
- aunt = tia (f)
- uncle = tio (m)
- niece = sobrinha (f)
- nephew = sobrinho (m)
- cousin = primo/a
- grandmother = avó (f)
- grandfather = avô (m)
- grandparents = avós (m)
- granddaughter = neta (f)
- grandson = neto (m)
- grandkids = netos (m)
- great-grandmother = bisavó (f)
- great-grandfather = bisavô (m)
- great-grandparents = bisavós (m)
- great-granddauther = bisneta (f)
- great-grandson = bisneto (m)
- great-grandkids = bisnetos (m)
- godmother = madrinha (f)
- godfather = padrinho (m)
- mother-in-law = sogra (f)
- father-in-law = sogro (m)
- daughter-in-law = nora (f)
- son-in-law = genro (m)
- sister-in-law = cunhada (f)
- brother-in-law = cunhado (m)
I have flashcards with family vocabulary in Portuguese here.
Additional Family-Related Vocabulary in Portuguese
Below is additional family-related vocabulary, including marital status:
- girlfriend = namorada (f)
- boyfriend = namorado (m)
- fiancée = noiva (f)
- fiancé = noivo (m)
- single = solteiro/a
- married = casado/a
- divorced = divorciado/a
- widow = viúva (f)
- widower = viúvo (m)
How to say mom and dad in Portuguese
Other ways to call your pai (father) are:
- papai = dad
- paizinho or painho = daddy (painho is more common in Northeastern Brazil)
- o coroa = old man (informal)
When we are talking to our father, we can call them pai, papai, painho, coroa.
When we are talking about our father we do not say meu papai or meu painho. We can say:
- meu pai
- o coroa
Here are examples using these words in sentences:
- Papai, posso pegar o carro emprestado? = Dad, can I borrow your car?
- Meu pai não me emprestou o carro. = My father did not lend me the car.
- Painho, eu te amo! = Daddy, I love you.
- Feliz Dia dos Pais!= Happy Father’s Day!
The same comments above apply to the following vocabulary:
- mãe = mother
- mamãe = mom
- mãezinha or mainha = mommy (mainha is more common in Northeastern Brazil)
- a coroa = old woman (informal)
- avó = grandmother
- vovó = grandma
- vozinha or voinha = granny/nanna (voinha is more common in the Northeast of Brazil)
- avô = grandfather
- vovô = grandpa
- vozinho or voinho = granddaddy (voinho is more common in the Northeast of Brazil)
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in Brazil
In Brazil we celebrate Mother’s Day (Dias das Mães) on the second Sunday in May and we celebrate Father’s Day (Dia dos Pais) on the second Sunday in August.
Family vocabulary: language considerations to avoid confusion
I have noticed a few language differences in family vocabulary in Portuguese and in English that can lead to confusion. Hopefully what you will learn here will avoid confusion for you.
Crianças are small children
The word for son in Portuguese is filho. The word for daughter is filha. In English, when a parent talks about their kids, they use the word “children” to refer to sons and daughters even when their sons and daughters are adults. This does not happen in Portuguese. The word for children in Portuguese is crianças. But the word crianças always means young children. To refer to adult sons and daughters, Brazilian parents use:
- filho for son
- filha for daughter
- filhas for daughters (plural)
- filhos for either sons or son and daughter; in other words, we use the masculine plural to refer a group that has men and women.
How to say siblings in Portuguese
Brother is irmão in Portuguese. Sister is irmã. To refer to siblings in the plural, use:
- brothers = irmãos
- sisters = irmãs
- brother and sister = irmãos
The meaning of UM CASAL in Portuguese
Um casal in Portuguese means a couple. But it can refer to different pairs. It can be:
- a married couple regardless of gender
- an unmarried couple (boyfriend, girlfriend) regardless of gender
- a pair composed of a female and a male who are not in a relationship
Let me give you an example to make it clear. Imagine that you are talking to a Brazilian friend, and you ask her how many kids she has. She may say:
- Eu tenho um casal.
Literally, it translates to “I have a couple.” This means that she has two kids, a boy and a girl.
We can also talk about our pets like this. I have cats. How many? Tenho um casal = I have two, one is male and one is female (true story).
The in-law confusion
In Portuguese, the words for in-law family members do not have any reference to the law. Therefore, we use those words to refer to our boyfriend´s/girlfriend´s family even before we are married.
In other words, a Brazilian man will refer to his girlfriend’s mother as his sogra (mother-in-law). That doesn’t even mean that it is a long relationship. Our words in Portuguese for the in-laws are unattached to law.
I learned that I cannot do this in English in an awkward way 😯. This was many years ago. I was dating this guy and we went to visit his mother in San Diego. She overhead me talking on the phone with a friend, and I said that I was visiting my mother-in-law. She thought I was putting pressure on her son to marry me 😂 I was not! I just meant my sogra = the mother of my boyfriend.
Statistics on the Brazilian family
What image do you have of the Brazilian family? Do you imagine a big family?
I’m going to share some recent statistics on the Brazilian family, and I think this might surprise you.
According to the IBGE – Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics -, in the last two decades there has been a substantial decrease in the size of the Brazilian family. The number of kids per woman in Brazil went from 2.39 in 2000, to 1.87 in 2001 to 1.6 in 2020.
Another change in the composition of the Brazilian family is that the number single moms with children has increased.
In addition, according to the IBGE, the number of divorces in Brazil grew 75% in five years.
Some studies suggest that the pandemic contributed to a significant increase in divorces in Brazil. An article by Agência Brasil, which is the national public news agency, said that the number of divorces had a record increase in 2020: it increased 15% from 2019 to 2020. The historical average annual rate was 2%.
In addition, an article by the Brazilian Institute of Family Law, which is a non-governmental, non-profit legal institution, said that from January to June 2021, the number of divorces in Brazil increased by 24% compared to the first half of 2020.
So there you have it, the Brazilian family has been changing.
How to practice new vocabulary
The best way to practice new vocabulary is to use it in context along with other pieces of your Portuguese language puzzle. I share 5 tips on how to do that in my lesson with 45 words that are similar in Portuguese in English. Those tips will help you get much more out of this lesson.
I hope you have learned a few new things with this Portuguese lesson.
This Portuguese lesson was originally published in 2011. It has been updated with additional vocabulary, cultural information, and a video lesson.
Luciana, gostei da liçāo sobre a familia. Achei util.
Quanto ao voto para a nova serie, eu votei para as idiomas (os?) mas achei todos interessantes.
Oi, Alice! Obrigada por votar! Estou muito animada para criar cursos online 🙂 Os idiomas são um tópico ótimo. Eu adoro. Obrigada!