Respect For Elders: 96 Essential Korean Vocabulary For Family

June 27, 2021

With the values of Confucianism, respect for elders among Korean families is still prominent. That is why learning Korean vocabulary for family 가족 (gajok) is important. Koreans don't call their family members by name. Instead, they use honorifics and titles. Koreans value their family a lot, and you can see it by the way they talk and act in front of their families. Older members are expected to be treated with respect and certain reverence that can be shown differently. You can change the manner of your speaking, check your grammar, and make sure that the elders will go first during different activities like having a meal.

Koreans are very family-oriented. Korean family members are very loyal to each other. However, the Korean family can also be so defining, so the individual act of a family member can impact the perception of the other family members.

There's a lot more to discover when you want to learn about family in Korean culture. But, in this blog, you will learn some Korean vocabulary for family, which can be useful when you come to visit Korea, meet locals, watch a Kdrama, and even study an elective language course at school. So, sit back, and enjoy reading!

 

Vocabulary For Family In Korean

Before we dive into the family members in Korean, let us first learn some basic vocabulary for a family in Korean. Take a look at these words and phrases that you should learn first.

가족 (gajok)

This is the Korean word for family. If you want to say "my family" you can say 나의 가족 (naui gajok).

친정 (chinjeong)

To say parent's family, use the Korean word 친정 (chinjeong).

시집 (sijip)

Koreans use 시집 (sijip) to say "husband's family."

 

Family Members In Korean

Now that you have learned some essential words related to the Korean family, you need to know a Korean vocabulary list, starting from parents down to relatives.

Parents -부모 (Bumo)

Korean Vocabulary for Family | 부모 (Bumo)

In Korean culture, the ultimate goal of parents is to see their children successful, prosperous, and educated. Therefore, they can be way too involved and devoted to their children's success. Nowadays, parents also share disciplinary power over their children, unlike the traditional way of broadly the father's role.

Father

Traditionally, Confucianism defines the family hierarchies, which emphasized patriarchal authority. In this family model, the father/husband is expected to show kindness and dominance to his wife and children. A father should also provide guidance and protection to his children and receive filial piety. The family upholds the father as the decision-maker

Now that you have learned a bit of what a father must be in Korean culture, let us now learn two ways to address your father in the Korean language:

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
아버지
아버님
abeoji
abeonim (honorific title)
Father
아빠appaDad

Mother

In traditional Korean culture, being obedient, serving the husband and the in-laws, taking care of the child and raising them well, and doing household chores is the mother's primary role. But after the Korean war, some families began to adopt the modern family dynamics. Women have gained more status and power in society.

There are two ways to address your mother in the Korean language:

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
어머니
어머님
eomeoni
eomeonim (honorific title)
Mother
엄마eommaMom

Children (아이들 aideul)

Korean Vocabulary for Family | 아이들 aideul)
Korean Vocabulary for Family | 아이들 aideul)

In Korean culture and traditions, children should be obedient to their parents. But, nowadays, younger generations slowly reject this which somehow causes conflicts among families.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
아들
아드님
adeul
adeunim (honorific title)
son

따님
ttal
ttanim (honorific title)
daughter
손자sonjagrandchild(ren)
손자sonjagrandson
손녀son-nyeogranddaughter

Siblings - 형제 (hyeongje)

When talking to your siblings, you should also use honorific title. Honorifics for siblings are gender-specific, and it depends on the person who uses them and who they're used for.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation

형님
hyeong
hyeongnim (honorific title)
Big brother (if you are a boy)
누나
누님
nuna
nunim (honorific title)
Big sister (if you are a boy)
오빠
 오라버니
oppa
orabeoni (honorific title)
Big brother (if you are a girl)
 언니eonniBig sister (if you are a girl)
동생dongsaengYounger sibling
남동생namdongsaengYounger brother
여동생yeodongsaengYounger sister
형제hyeongjeBrothers
자매jamaeSisters

Remember!

  1. “형” (hyeong) -If a male is talking about a male sibling, specifically an older male. It’s used for calling or talking about an older male sibling.
  2. 누나” (nuna) - If a male is talking about a female sibling, specifically an older female.
  3. 언니” (eonni) -If a female is talking about a female sibling (older female).
  4. “오빠” (oppa) - If a female is talking about a male sibling (older male).

You may also hear women calling other women 언니 (eonni) even though they are not siblings. This is a common occurrence in Korea, and it is a sign of courtesy. You may also hear women calling Kpop idols and actors오빠 (oppa), and surprisingly, other fans from all over the world also do this.

Siblings' Spouses

The bonds of siblings are irreplaceable but, if they decided to get married, their spouses would become your family as well. Of course, if you are not marrying a Korean, this won't be that important for you. But since we are learning about Korean vocabulary for family, here are different ways to address your siblings' spouse.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
새언니saeeonniOlder brother’s wife (for women)
형부hyeongbuOlder sister’s husband (for women)
올케olkeYounger brother’s wife (for women)
제부jebuYounger sister’s husband (for women)
형수님hyeongsunimOlder brother’s wife (for men)
매형maehyeongOlder sister’s husband (for men)
제수jesuYounger brother’s wife (for men)
매제 maejeYounger sister’s husband (for men)

Grand Parents -조부모 (jobumonim)

Korean Vocabulary for Family | 조부모 (jobumonim)
Korean Vocabulary for Family | 조부모 (jobumonim)

Grandparents should be treated with much respect and reverence. As the eldest in the family, their opinion about certain family issues and problems are really considered. Take note that etiquette is being observed when you are talking with your grandparents. As stated above, changing the manner of your speaking, changing your grammar structures, and letting them go first in certain activities is a sign of respect. Here is some Khmer vocabulary for family related to grandparents:

Grandfather

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
할아버지harabeojigrandfather (paternal)
외할아버지oe harabeojigrandfather (maternal)
증조부jeungjobugreat-grandfather

Grandmother

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
할머니halmeonigrandmother (paternal)
외할머니oe halmeonigrandmother (maternal)
증조 할머니jeungjo halmeonigreat-grandmother

Relatives -친척 (chincheok)

Korean Vocabulary for Family | 친척 (chincheok)
Korean Vocabulary for Family | 친척 (chincheok)

 

Relatives are also valued in Korean families. Usually, the whole family, including your distant relatives, get together during special occasions. Therefore, they are also important family members in a Korean family. Here is some Korean vocabulary for family related to relatives:

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
사촌sachonCousin
숙모sungmoAunt
조카jokaNephew
조카딸jokattalNiece
숙모sungmoAunt
삼촌samchonUncle, father’s unmarried younger brother (father's side)
작은아버지jageunabeojiUncle, father’s married younger brother (father's side)
큰아버지 keunabeojiUncle, father’s older brother (father's side)
고모부gomobuUncle, the husband of father’s sister (father's side)
외삼촌oesamchonUncle, mother’s brother, regardless of marital status or age (mother's side)
이모부imobuUncle, mother’s sister’s husband (mother's side)

In-Laws - 사돈 (sadon)

Korean Vocabulary for Family | 사돈 (sadon)
Korean Vocabulary for Family | 사돈 (sadon)

When you got married, one of the most important things that you consider is your in-laws. In fact, during the wedding ceremony, there is a part where the couple gives thanks to each other's parents for raising their children. This is probably one of the most touching parts of a wedding ceremony. So, here is a list of Korean vocabulary for family related to in-laws.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
아버님
시아버지 
abeonim
siabeoji
Father-in-law (husband’s side) 
장인janginFather-in-law (wife’s side) 
머님
시어머니
eomeonim
sieomeoni
Mother-in-law (husband’s side)
장모님jangmonimMother-in-law (wife’s side)

Brother-In-Law

You might find it complicated to address your brother-in-law. But of course, this is not that important if you are not married to a Korean. But, for the sake of learning Korean vocabulary for family, here are different ways to address your brother-in-law.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
형님hyeongnimwife’s side, older brother
처남cheonamwife’s side, younger brother
아주머님 ajumeonimWife’s older brother’s wife
처남댁cheonamdaekwife’s younger brother’s wife
아주버님ajubeonimhusband’s side, older brother
시동생sidongsaenghusband’s side, younger brother
도련님 doreyonnimhusband’s side, younger, unmarried, addressed directly
서방님seobangnimhusband’s side, younger, married, addressed directly
동서dongseHusband’s younger brother’s wife
형님hyeongnimHusband’s older brother’s wife

Sister-In-Law

There are different ways to address your sister-in-law depending if she's an older or younger sister.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
동서
아가씨
dongseo
agassi
Sister-in-law (husband’s side, younger sister)
형님
언니
hyeongnim
eonni
Sister-in-law (husband’s side, older sister)
처형
형님
cheohyeong
hyeongnim
Sister-in-law (wife’s side, older sister)
처제cheojeSister-in-law (wife’s side, younger sister)
서방님seobangnimHusband’s older sister’s husband
형님 hyeongnimWife’s older sister’s husband
동서dongseoWife’s younger sister’s husband

Married Couple - 부부 (Bubu)

 

Planning to marry a Korean? Do you have a relative or a best friend who married a Korean? Well, these words might be useful for you. You may also want to learn some endearing Korean love words and phrases. Here is some Korean vocabulary for family related to Married couples.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
부인buinWife
남편 nampyeonHusband
아내anaeWife (when talking about her to non-relatives)
안사람ansaramWife (when talking about her with other people)
에미emiWife (when talking about her with adults with children)
주인
바깥양반
주인양반
juin
bakkatyangban
juinyangban
Husband (when talking about him with other people)
애비 aebiHusband (when talking about him with adults with children)

 

Let's Practice These Sentences About Korean Family

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
우리 가족은 다섯(5)명이에요uri gajogeun daseot(5)myeongieyoWe are a family of five.
그의 아내는 사업가예요geuui anaeneun saeopgayeyoHis wife is a businesswoman.
그녀의 남편은 유명한 회사의 기술자예요geunyeoui nampyeoneun yumyeonghan hoesaui gisuljayeyoHer husband is an engineer for a famous company.
그녀의 친척들은 일본에서 일해요geunyeoui chincheokdeureun ilboneseo ilhaeyoHer relatives work in Japan.
나의 조부모님은 책 읽는 것을 좋아해요naui jobumonimeun chaek ingneun geoseul joahaeyoMy grandparents like to read books.
그의 손주들은 중국의 대학에서 공부해요geuui sonjudeureun junggugui daehageseo gongbuhaeyoHis grandchildren study at the university in China.
저 두 소년은 사촌이에요jeo du sonyeoneun sachonieyoThose two boys are cousins.
나의 남자조카는 군인이 되는 것을 원해요naui namjajokaneun gunini doeneun geoseul wonhaeyoMy nephew wants to be a soldier.
당신의 여자조카는 여배우가 되길 원해요dangsinui yeojajokaneun yeobaeu-ga doe-gil wonhaeyoYour niece wants to be an actress.
나의 고모는 나에게 매우 친절해요naui gomoneun naege maeu chinjeolhaeyoMy aunt is very kind to me.
그의 삼촌은 엄격하지만 친절해요geuui samchoneun eomgyeokajiman chinjeolhaeyoHis uncle is strict but kind.
그녀의 남편은 매우 침착해요geunyeoui nampyeoneun maeu chimchakaeyoHer husband is very calm.
그들은 조카들을 반가워 해요geudeureun jokadeureul bangawo haeyoThey feel glad for their nephew.
가족은 점심 식사를 하고 있습니다.Gajogeun jeomsim sikssareul hago itseumnida.The family is having lunch.
아이가 생기면 모든 것들이 바뀝니다.Aiga saenggimyeon modeun geotteuri bakkwimnida.Everything changes when you have a child.
오빠가 여동생을 안고 있습니다.Oppaga yeodongsaengeul ankko itsseumnida.The older brother is holding his younger sister.
우리 할머니는 세상에서 제일 맛있는 사과 파이를 만드십니다.Uri halmeonineun sesangeseo jeil masinneun sagwa paireul mandeusimnida.My grandmother makes the best apple pie in the world.
매주 토요일 할아버지는 저를 데리고 낚시하러 갑니다.Maeju toyoil harabeojineun jeoreul derigo nakksihareo gamnida.My grandfather takes me fishing every Saturday.

 

Want To Learn Korean? Ask me How!

The Korean language is a concrete example and reflection of a well-preserved culture. From the sentence structure down to the manner of talking to each other, we can see nothing but respect and politeness. That is why it is an excellent language to invest in if you love Korean culture.

There are different ways to learn Korean. You can read blog posts like this for free. There are other blog posts that you can start with, like Basic Words And Phrases In KoreanBasic Greetings In Korean, and Ways To Say Thank You In Korean.

But, since you have reached this far, you can also use Ling App. If you want to expand your knowledge and skills about the Korean language, Ling App is a perfect choice because it's convenient and fun to use. Have a meaningful and engaging language-learning experience through Ling App. Say goodbye to conflicting schedules, books, and classes. Learn Korean now!

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