Korean Family Terms – How to address relatives & friends

Last Updated on September 8, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
Husband wife and 2 kids playing

Korean family terms are very important in Korea. It may come in handy during your vacation when you meet different people but especially if you’re living there for a period of time as the topic of family is bound to come up.

There are quite a few different family terms in Korean for you to learn. That is because Koreans often use titles instead of names to show respect. These family terms demonstrate the social and family hierarchy.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what each family term means and how to use it.

Husband wife and 2 kids playing

Below is a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:

Family Members in Korean

These are the terms that you will absolutely need to learn to discuss family with your new Korean-speaking friends and contacts. You’ll quickly find yourself using at least one of these words everyday! Whether you are talking with or about your family, or with others, you can use the same words.

Family (gajok)
Father (abeoji)
Dad (appa)
Mother (eomeoni)
Mom (eomma)
Parents (bumonim)
Grandparents (jobumonim)
Grandfather (harabeoji)
Grandmother (halmeoni)
Big brother (if you are a boy) (hyeong)
Big brother (if you are a girl) (oppa)
Big sister (if you are a boy) (nuna)
Big sister (if you are a girl) (eonni)
Younger sibling (dongsaeng)
Younger brother
Younger sister (yeodongsaeng)
Brothers (hyeongje)
Sisters (jamae)

Family sitting on the sofa

Family in Korean

Before we deep dive into each family term in Korean, we should also know the Korean word for “family” which is 가족 (gajok).

The first part of the word, “가 (ga)”, often appears in other words related to family, such as 가정 (gajeong), which is a less commonly used word for “family”, or in restaurant names such as 유가네 (yugane), which would translate as “Yoo family”. Knowing the meaning of different parts of words can help you grow your vocabulary very quickly.

If you want to say “my family”, then instead of using 제 (je) or 내 (nae) for my, you can use 우리 (uri). Usually 우리 (uri) means “our”, but it can mean “my” when referring to your family.

Sample Sentences:

가족끼리 여행 중이에요. (gajokkkiri yeohaeng jungieyo)

We are travelling as just a family.

저는 가족들과 함께 경주에 갔어요. (jeoneun gajokdeulgwa hamkke gyeongjue gasseoyo)

I went to Gyeongju with my family.

그 파티에 가족도 초청할 거야? (geu patie gajokdo chocheonghal geoya)

Will you invite your family to the party?

If you want to learn how to build your own Korean sentences, we have a resource to help you learn the basic Korean sentence structure.

Sister in Korean

There are different ways to say “sister” in Korean. It depends on the gender of someone addressing one’s sister. For males, an older sister is addressed as 누나 (nuna). For females, the word 언니 (eonni) is used. 누나 (nuna) and 언니 (eonni) can also be used when talking about one’s older sister to others.

Check out the video below to learn more about the word Unnie (언니).

What does the Korean word "unnie" (언니 | eonni) mean?

When talking about a younger sister, the word 여동생 (yeodongsaeng) is used regardless of your gender. In addition, the general term for “sister” in Korean is 자매 (jamae).

Brother in Korean

Similar to “sister”, the Korean word for brother is also dependent on who’s addressing the brother. For males, 형 (hyeong) is used to address an older brother in Korean while for females, 오빠 (oppa) is used. Both 형 (hyeong) and 오빠 (oppa) are also used when referring to one’s older brother to others.

The word 남동생 (namdongsaeng) is used by both males and females when talking about one’s younger brother in Korean. The general term for “brother” is 형제 (hyeongje).

Korean terms for father’s side of the family

The next two sections may be more challenging for you to learn as there are many new terms to memorize. However, some of these words may come in surprisingly handy to know. In this section, we will go over terms that are specific to times when you are speaking of your father’s side of the family.

Father’s side of the family (chinga)
Father’s older brother (keunappa), (baekbu)
Father’s older brother’s wife (keuneomma), (baengmo)
Father’s younger brother (jageunappa)
Father’s younger brother’s wife (jageuneomma)
Father’s unmarried younger brother (samchon), (sukbu)
Father’s sister (gomo)

Father’s sister’s husband (gomobu)

Korean terms for mother’s side of the family

Much like the above-mentioned terms for your father’s side of the family, these terms are only used when you want to talk about your mother’s side. Talking about your father’s and mother’s sides of the family may not be a daily topic for you, but these are incredibly useful words to know.

Mother’s side of the family (oega)
Maternal grandfather (oeharabeoji)
Maternal grandmother (oehalmeoni)
Mother’s brother (oesukbu)

Mother’s brother’s wife (oesungmo)
Mother’s sister (imo)
Mother’s sister’s husband (imobu)

Korean terms for married couples to use with each other

Unless you marry a Korean or chat a lot with someone who is married to a Korean, the following section may not be of great importance to you. However, if you do intend to marry a Korean or one of your best friends is married, you will want to know this vocabulary and be able to use it. Some vocabulary changes depending on the situation they are being used in, and in those cases, we have made a note beside the word.

Couple getting married

Husband (nampyeon)
Wife (buin)

In-laws (sadon)

Father-in-law (husband’s side) (abeonim), (siabeoji)
Father-in-law (wife’s side) (jangin)
Mother-in-law (husband’s side) (eomeonim), (sieomeoni)
Mother-in-law (wife’s side) (jangmonim)
Brother-in-law (husband’s side, older brother) (ajubeonim), (hyeongnim)
Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger brother) (sidongsaeng)
Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger, married, addressed directly) (seobangnim)
Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger, unmarried, addressed directly) (doreyonnim)
Husband’s older brother’s wife (hyeongnim)
Husband’s younger brother’s wife (dongseo)
Brother-in-law (wife’s side, older brother) (hyeongnim)
Brother-in-law (wife’s side, younger brother) (cheonam)
Wife’s older brother’s wife (ajumeonim)
Wife’s younger brother’s wife (cheonamdaek)
Sister-in-law (husband’s side, older sister)(hyeongnim), (eonni)
Sister-in-law (husband’s side, younger sister) (dongseo), (agassi)
Sister-in-law (wife’s side, older sister) (cheohyeong), (hyeongnim)
Sister-in-law (wife’s side, younger sister) (cheoje)
Husband’s older sister’s husband (seobangnim)
Husband’s younger sister’s husband (seobangnim)
Wife’s older sister’s husband (hyeongnim)
Wife’s younger sister’s husband (dongseo)
Husband (when talking about him with other people) (juin), (bakkatyangban), (juinyangban)
Husband (when talking about him with adults with children) (aebi)
Wife (when talking about her to non-relatives) (anae)
Wife (when talking about her with other people) (ansaram)
Wife (when talking about her with adults with children) (emi)

Mother-in-law in Korean

The Korean term for mother-in-law can be expressed in a number of ways. The term or title used to address mother-in-law in Korean depends on which side of the family she belongs to. Mother-in-law in Korean for the husband’s side is called 어머님 (eomeonim) or 시어머니 (sieomeoni). On the other hand, for the wife’s side, it’s 장모님 (jangmonim).

Father-in-law in Korean

Similarly, father-in-law in Korean also depends on the side of the family he belongs to. If he belongs to the husband’s side, the father-in-law is called 아버님 (abeonim) or 시아버지 (siabeoji). While he is called 장인 (jangin) on the wife’s side.

Sister-in-law in Korean

Just like sister in Korean, there are different terms for sister-in-law depending if she’s the older or younger sister. First, for the husband’s side, 형님 (hyeongnim) and 언니 (eonni) is used to address the older sister, while 동서 (dongseo) and 아가씨 (agassi) are for the younger sister. For the wife’s side, the older sister-in-law is addressed as 처형 (cheohyeong) or 형님 (hyeongnim), while the younger sister-in-law is 제 (cheoje).

Additionally, if you’re a guy, you can call your younger brother’s wife as 제수 (jesu) and 올케 (olke) if you’re a girl. If you have an older brother who’s married, you can call his wife 형수님 (hyeongsunim) if you’re a guy. If you’re a girl, you can call your older brother’s wife as 새언니 (saeeonni).

Brother-in-law in Korean

Addressing your brother-in-law in Korean is a bit more complex. On the husband’s side, you call him 아주버님 (ajubeonim) or 형님(hyeongnim) if he’s the older brother. If he’s younger, you can call him 시동생 (sidongsaeng). However, a younger brother-in-law can also be addressed as 서방님 (seobangnim) if he’s married and 도련님 (doreyonnim) if he’s unmarried. For the wife’s side, the older brother-in-law is called형님(hyeongnim) and the younger one is 처남 (cheonam).

To add, your younger sister’s husband can be addressed as 매제 (maeje), if you’re a guy and 제부 (jebu) if you’re a girl. For your older sister’s husband, you can call him 매형 (maehyeong) if you’re a guy and 형부 (hyeongbu) if you’re a girl.

Terms for your siblings’ spouses

These words will be ones you will perhaps use most rarely, but they could be fun to learn. And you never know when you might need them!

Older brother’s wife (for men) (hyeongsunim)
Older sister’s husband (for men) (maehyeong)
Younger brother’s wife (for men) (jesu)
Younger sister’s husband (for men) (maeje)
Older brother’s wife (for women) (saeeonni)
Older sister’s husband (for women) (hyeongbu)
Younger brother’s wife (for women) (olke)
Younger sister’s husband (for women) (jebu)

Get “Korean Family Terms” Free PDF Guide

Relatives in Korean

Although we saved this list for last, most of this vocabulary will actually be greatly useful to you. We have separated them from the other words as they are difficult to place under a specific section. However, alongside the vocabulary for immediate family, these are the next most important set of vocabulary for you to learn in the beginning stages.

Relatives (chincheok)

Parent’s family (chinjeong)
Husband’s family (sijip)
Child/Children (ai)
Son (adeul)
Daughter (ttal)
Cousin (sachon)
Uncle (samchon)
Aunt (sungmo)
Nephew (joka)
Niece (jokattal)
Grandchildren (sonju)
Grandson (sonja)
Granddaughter (sonnyeo)

Korean terms for “uncle”

In this section, we’ll show you more detailed information on how to say uncle in Korean. But before that, you need to understand that there are several different ways to say it. The correct word depends on if it’s the side of the father or the mother of the Korean family.

Besides that, it also depends on whether the male sibling is older or younger and if he’s married and has a wife or not. Sounds confusing? We know, especially with more family members! There certainly are lots of terms for the members of the family in KoreanBut we’ll quickly and effectively teach you all the words for uncle in Korean.

Man with eyeglasses sitting on a couch while reading newspaper

Uncle in Korean (Father’s side)

There are four ways on how to call your uncle from your father’s side. Keep in mind that even a change in his marital status affects how you should address him.

삼촌 (samchon)

father’s unmarried younger brother

작은아버지 (jageunabeoji)

father’s married younger brother

Note: 작은 means “small” and 아버지 means “father”

큰아버지 (keunabeoji)

father’s older brother

Note: regardless of marital status with 큰 means “big” and 아버지 means “father”

고모부 (gomobu)

the husband of father’s sister

Note: 고모 means “aunt” from father’s side and 부 specifying you’re talking about aunt’s husband)

Example Sentence:

우리 삼촌은 아직도 부모님과 함께 살고 있어요. (uri samchoneun ajikdo bumonimgwa hamkke salgo isseoyo.)

Our uncle (father’s unmarried little brother) still lives with his parents.

Uncle in Korean (Mother’s side)

For one’s uncle on the mother’s side, it’s a bit simpler since there are only two words to remember. Unlike on the father’s side, marital status or age has no bearing on how you call your uncle.

외삼촌 (oesamchon)

mother’s brother, regardless of marital status or age, with 외 designating it as mother’s side

이모부 (imobu)

mother’s sister’s husband

Note: with 부 specifying he’s the husband and 이모 meaning ‘aunt’ from mother’s side

Example Sentence:

오늘 우리 이모와 이모부를 보러 갈거에요. (oneul uri imowa imobureul boreo galgeoeyo.)

Today we will visit my aunt (from my mother’s side) and her husband.

“Aunt” in Korean

Similar to uncle, there are also different ways to say aunt in the Korean language. It may depend on if she’s the sister of your mother or father, or she may be your father’s brother’s wife. However, the most common term is 숙모 (sungmo).

How Many People Are in Your Family?

In English, people will often ask a question like “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” However, the same question in Korean would be “How many people are in your family?” To answer this question, you should count your motherfather, brothers, and sisters. If you have sons or daughters, then you can count your spouse and children instead. You can then answer by saying something like ‘There are five people in my family”.

Look at the dialogue below to see how to ask about someone’s family in Korean:

A: 가족이 몇 명이에요? (gajogi myeot myeongieyo)

How many people are in your family?

B: 가족이 다섯 명이에요. (gajogi daseot myeongieyo)

There are five people in my family.

A word of caution about Romanization

While you can study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) if you ever want to take your Korean skills to the next level. Hangeul is quite simple; you can learn it in just 90 minutes!

After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, you’ll be able to supercharge your Korean learning. Understanding K-Dramas, reading signs, talking to Korean friends, and getting familiar with the culture will all become a lot easier. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?

Wow, that was quite the list! Do you have similar terms for family members and friends in your native language? Feel free to tell us about your family in Korean in the comments – we’d love to hear all about it!

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Get “Korean Family Terms” Free PDF Guide

    32 replies to "Korean Family Terms – How to address relatives & friends"

    • Avatar for Z Z

      how would you call a son-in-law/daughter-in-law?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Son-in-law in Korean is 사위. And daughter-in-law in Korean is 며느리. ^^

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