To all those Chinese learners out there, we’re here for you, because we know the struggle of studying Chinese. This language can be extremely difficult with the many different tones, characters, and pinyin. Not only are the tones difficult to memorize, knowing how to pronounce them and actually being able to pronounce them is a whole different task. But then, when you actually try to speak Chinese and when locals can actually understand you, you’ll feel the greatest satisfaction.

As you start to become slowly more confident in Chinese, and you feel that you are finally getting somewhere, you start to learn about the Chinese family tree. If you thought that Chinese could not get any harder, you definitely have not started studying the Chinese family tree…

In English, you have mom, dad, brother, sister, uncle, aunt and knowing when to use cousin, niece or nephew is about as hard as it will ever get. Well, in Chinese they have several different names for the same relative depending on whether this person is older, younger, from your mom’s or dad’s side. Now you must wonder what that must look like? Well, we can give you a little rundown with a few branches of this very complicated family tree.

Here for a quick clear overview:

Immediate family

Your Mom – 妈妈 (māma)

Your Dad – 爸爸 (bàba)

Your Wife – 妻子 (Qīzi) or 老婆 (lǎopó)

Your older brother – 哥哥 (Gēge)

Your older sister – 姐姐 (Jiějie)

Your younger brother – 弟弟 (Dìdi)

Your younger sister – 妹妹 (Mèimei)

Your son – 儿子 (Érzi)

Your daughter – 女儿 (Nǚ’ér)


Grandmother on Dad’s side – 奶奶 (Nǎinai)

Grandmother on Mom’s side -外婆 (wài pó)


Grandfather on Dad’s side – 爷爷 (Yéye)

Grandfather on Mom’s side – 外公 (wàigōng)

Uncle / Aunt

Dad’s older brother – 伯伯 (Bóbo)

Dad’s younger brother – 叔叔 (Shūshu)

Mom’s older or younger brother -舅舅 (Jiùjiu)

Mom’s younger sister -阿姨 (Āyí)

Brother in law

Your older sister’s husband – 姐夫 (Jiěfū)

Sister in law

Your older brother’s wife- 嫂子 (Sǎo zi)

If you are up for the challenge, you can find the complete family tree here!

Still confused by this complicated family tree? Check out our Chinese language programs and improve or start learning Chinese in no time. We also offer internships and other programs, check us out!

Need more convincing to start studying Chinese? Read up on some of our blog posts to understand why you should learn Chinese. While you’re at it, also check out misconceptions about the Chinese language and tips for studying Chinese.