With big families, it’s always a struggle to mental everyone’s name.

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Now, imagine having to remember not simply their names, however the particular designated location for who they space within the family.

Of course, we have our “brother-in-law” and “second cousin when removed” company in English.

But what about titles based upon the period of the relative? Or even titles based on the sex of the individual whose family member is being referred to?

That’s the confusing people of naming Korean household members!

Let’s dive in.

Talking around Family in Korean: necessary Vocabulary, titles and cultural Norms

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The significance of family members in oriental Culture

Before we gain into the specific family member names, you should know a small bit about what the concept of family members is prefer for korean people, particularly within their indigenous homeland.

Family in oriental is 가족 (ga-jok).

Like plenty of other eastern cultures, classic Korean culture places special definition on the family structure. V the long-time embedding and practice that Confucian principles, the adage “respect her elders” has been and remains fairly prominent. It’s strong expressed in ~ the family, in which elder members are expected to it is in treated with a specific reverence.

This is displayed in various ways, from changing your way of speaking and checking your sentence grammar, come making certain elders go an initial during particular activities (such together partaking in a meal).

In oriental society, household is frequently seen together a collective, with any member frequently seen to represent an ext than just him or herself.

Using title (Not Names!) for her Family

Knowing how to name family members members is also one of the first things you aim to learn when researching a foreign language and also every language has actually its quirks about the matter. In the situation of Korean, you’ll quickly an alert something: the general lack of making use of actual names for household members.

In the oriental language, there’s miscellaneous attached to the action of referring to someone directly by their very first name. When world are talking to someone they’re much less acquainted with, or come someone that is their exceptional in some way, lock often provide them a title. These space honorifics, titles that replace the intake of actual name in order to express an expertise of one’s society position.

Honorifics are just another part of the layered etiquette system existing in korean culture. Periodically honorifics aren’t given to those who room your junior, back courtesy may incline you to carry out so in various situations.

Before we go any kind of further, let’s inspect out this video clip on korean honorifics native lifwynnfoundation.org’s oriental YouTube channel:

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When Are oriental Names Used?

If names space to be added to honorifics, climate they’d be the surname, which would certainly go before the honorific. This is often done through older individuals speaking to those who room close in age to them. For example, if you were speaking to a 김정후 (Kim Jung-hoo) you may refer to him together 김 씨 (Kim ssi), no 정후 씨.

However, in other contexts, addressing someone in this manner deserve to come off together demeaning or act together a curt social place check, a little like exactly how in English we’d emphasize a “Mr.” or “Mrs. / Ms.” to gain at someone’s attention and also keep lock in line.

This dominance is influential in the korean family. If an enlarge sibling might refer to their younger sibling by your name, it’d be rather a surprised if a younger sibling unexpectedly spoke to their elder brothers or sister by their actual name sans honorific. It could be rather messy if you perform it with your parent or grandparent.

The most obvious time the it’d be alright come use first names would certainly be for part documentation or specification objective (such once you must suggest out a details family member to who else, prefer a cousin amidst cousins) and when you’re no speaking come the person directly.

Honorifics act as courtesy markers and also show you understand who deserves respect. Within the family, psychic the correct title is a social expectation. Rather unfortunately, over there are rather a lot of of specific titles to remember!

Practicing Korean family Vocabulary with Real-World oriental Videos

It deserve to feel dizzying to keep all of this Korean family vocabulary straight. However it doesn’t have to be that way!

To learn and practice family vocabulary, it’s a an excellent idea come immerse yourself in real korean media like oriental movies, K-drama and podcasts. These authentic discovering materials will present you how native korean speakers describe their household members, while additionally teaching you around the dynamics of oriental families.

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If you’re searching for authentic oriental learning materials, lifwynnfoundation.org is a an excellent place come start.


lifwynnfoundation.org take away real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language discovering lessons.


Because each video features aboriginal Korean speakers, lifwynnfoundation.org teaches you oriental as it’s really spoken. Plus, interactive subtitles in English and also Korean enable you to follow along and quickly look increase words—meaning this an excellent content is available even for beginning learners.

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How come Refer to household Members in Korean

Children (아이들, ah-ee-deul)

아들 (a-deul) — son

(ddal) — daughter

아이 (ah-ee) — kid (one)

Parents (부모, bu-mo)

어머니 (uh-muh-ni) / 엄마 (uhm-ma) — mother / mom

아버지 (ah-buh-ji) / 아빠 (ah-ppa) — dad / dad

These terms use to both biological and also in-law parents, although there are specific terms to point out parents-in-law when you’re speaking about them.

Grandparents (조부모, jo-bu-mo)

할아버지 (ha-ra-buh-ji) — grandfather

할머니 (hal-muh-ni) — grandmother

To be more formal as soon as addressing your grandparents, girlfriend can add a 님 come the end to make 할아버님 or 할머님.

Spouses (배우자, beh-oo-ja)

남편 (nam-pyun) — husband

아내 (ah-neh) — wife

These are what you’d call your spouses as soon as you’re talking about, not with, them. Normally, korean couples describe each various other with other terms the endearment or pet names.

One of these terms is 여보 (yuh-bo) which basically translates come “darling” or “sweetheart.” This term is used specifically by married couples. If a younger or unmarried couple uses this term, they’re do the efforts to it is in cutesy or ~ pretend to it is in married.

Another typical term of endearment is 당신 (dang-shin), i beg your pardon basically method “you.” However, take it note: this term have to only be provided to directly address a spouse. If you usage it to typical “you” in any kind of other context, it can be seen as offensive.

Siblings (형제자매, hyung-jeh-ha-meh)

(hyung) — older brothers for male

오빠 (o-ppa) — older brother for female

누나 (nu-na) — older sister because that male

언니 (un-ni) — enlarge sister for female

남동생 (nam-dong-seng) — younger brother

여동생 (yuh-dong-seng) — younger sister

Here’s our an initial look at exactly how honorifics will certainly differ based on the gender of the speaker.

If you’re at all familiar with oriental drama shows, or K-dramas, girlfriend probably already know these constraints. Uneven jokingly, a oriental girl wouldn’t speak to her older brother 형 or a korean boy speak to his larger sister 언니.

These honorifics are also usable for non-blood-related individuals if they’re close enough to you. Nowadays, they additionally are offered flirtatiously.

For the younger siblings, note that 동생 itself method “younger sibling” and has no solitary gender attached come it, for this reason you can actually just refer to your younger sibling through 동생 if the gender distinction isn’t necessary. The character before it denotes the sex of the sibling: 남 for young originates indigenous 남자 (nam-ja, “man/boy”) and the 여 from 여동생 originates from 여자 (yuh-ja, “lady/girl”).

Your biological Siblings’ Spouses

If you’re male, use:

형수 (hyung-soo) — older brother’s wife

매형 (meh-hyung) — older sister’s husband

제수씨 (je-su-ssi) — younger brother’s wife

매제 (meh-je) — younger sister’s husband

If you’re female, use:

새언니 (seh-un-ni) — older brother’s wife

형부 (hyung-bu) — older sister’s husband

올케 (ol-kke) — younger brother’s wife

제부 (je-bu) — younger sister’s husband

Yes, the sex distinctions in sibling titles still apply for her siblings-in-law! If you’re close sufficient to them, you deserve to just attend to them through the common sibling titles without the specifying coming before character.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry: most Koreans aren’t even familiar through these terms, particularly younger Koreans. They’re great to know, yet it’s okay if you can’t keep them straight.

Extended household (대가족, dae-ga-jok)

사촌 (sa-chon) — cousin (typically, address them through standard sibling titles noted above)

조카 (jo-ka) — nephew

조카딸 (jo-ka-ddal) — niece

손자 (son-ja) — grandson

손녀 (son-nyuh) — granddaughter

Maternal next (외가, oe-ga)

이모 (ee-mo) — aunt / mother’s sister

이모부 (ee-mo-bu) — uncle / mother’s sister’s husband

외삼촌 (oe-sam-chon) — uncle / mother’s brother (age not relevant)

외숙모 (oe-sook-mo) — aunt / mother’s brother’s wife

Paternal side (친가, chin-ga)

고모 (go-mo) — aunt / father’s sisters (younger or older)

고모부 (go-mo-bu) — uncle / aunt’s husband

삼촌 (sam-chon) — uncle / father’s brother (younger and unmarried)

작은아버지 (jag-eun-ah-buh-ji) or 작은 아빠 (jag-eun ah-ppa) — uncle / father’s brothers (younger, typically married)

큰아버지 (keun-ah-buh-ji) or 큰아빠 (keun-ah-ppa) uncle / father’s brother (older, unmarried or married)

숙모 (sook-mo) — aunt / father’s brother’s wife (generalized). To specify:

큰어머니 (keun-uh-muh-ni) or 큰엄마 (keun-uh-ma) — aunt / father’s older brother’s wife

작은어머니 (jag-eun-uh-muh-ni) or 작은엄마 (jag-eun-uhm-ma) — aunt / father’s younger brother’s wife

As a rapid note: these are the words you’d use as the boy of your mother and father. As a child, you’d call your father’s next of the family members 친가, yet your mother deserve to refer to her own family as 친가 as well, conversely, you’d speak 외가 because that the same group of people. Store that in mind!

You most likely also notice that there’s more complication v naming her father’s brothers. Once talking about them, one would normally attach Korean ordinal number to the title, which designate their order in age.

For example, the really eldest head uncle would be 큰아버지, the 2nd eldest head uncle would certainly be dubbed 둘째 큰아버지, the 3rd eldest 셋째 큰아버지, and so on.

This also applies for her father’s younger brothers, despite you’d use 작은아버지 rather of 큰아버지.

If you’re wondering why this special therapy exists particularly for the male section of the head side, component of the is likely due to those timeless Confucian ethics mentioned before, which also put focus on the duty of the man within the family.

In-laws (사돈, sa-don)

사위 (sa-wi) — son-in-law

surname of son-in-law + 서방 (suh-bang) — son-in-law (when straight addressed)

며느리 (myuh-neu-ra) — daughter-in-law (when speaking about her to who else)

애기야 (eh-gi-ya) — daughter-in-law (when straight addressed)

Husband’s side

These room the terms the a wife would usage to describe her in-laws.

Husband’s Parents:

시아버지 (shi-ah-buh-ji) — husband’s father / wife’s father-in-law

시어머니 (shi-uh-muh-ni) — husband’s mom / wife’s mother-in-law

When you’re talking to your parents-in-law, you’d still describe them with the standard 어머니 or 아버지, back you’d probably tack ~ above the much more formal 님 come show an ext respect.

Husband’s Siblings:

도련님 (do-ryun-nim) — husband’s younger, unmarried brother

아주버님 (ah-ju-buh-nim) — husband’s older brother (This also way the husband that a wife’s enlarge sister.)

형님 (hyung-nim) — husband’s larger sister or husband’s brother’s wife

동서 (dong-suh) — husband’s younger or older brother’s mam (If the 동서 is older than the wife, the wife may additionally call her 형님.)

아가씨 (ah-ga-ssi) — husband’s younger sister

서방님 (suh-bang-nim) — husband’s married younger brothers / husband’s sister’s husband (서방님 may additionally be used as just an interpretation “husband.”)

Wife’s side

These space the terms that a husband would usage to refer to his in-laws.

Wife’s Parents:

장인 (jang-in) — wife’s dad / husband’s father-in-law

장모님 (jang-mo-nim) — wife’s mother / husband’s mother-in-law

Again, you’d probably deal with your wife’s in-law parents v the traditional 어머니 or 아버지 with the addition the 님 because that respect.

Wife’s Siblings:

처남 (chuh-nam) — wife’s younger brother

형님 (hyung-nim) — wife’s enlarge brother

동서 (dong-suh) — wife’s sister’s husband

처제 (chuh-je) — wife’s younger sister

처형 (chuh-hyung) — wife’s enlarge sister

사돈 is a term generally used by enlarge generations to describe in-laws, and also it can be provided for when you’re no speaking to your family. It deserve to come off together rude if, say, a son-in-law handle his in-law parents directly as 사돈, therefore it’s encourage you don’t carry out so come your very own in-laws.

While you’d refer to your parents-in-laws v 어머니 or 아버지, for the many part, you’d keep the titles for the siblings together is whether you’re a wife or husband.

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If you’re wondering: yes, also Korean people struggle to remember all of these titles! due to the fact that of the breadth and also specificity that Korean family terminology, you’ll easily impress natives if you’re savvy ~ above which family member receives which title.