Viet Family-in-law 101


I admit I feel quite lazy after making all the pretty charts, and I think they’re self-explanatory, but if I don’t explain them, you’ll probably get confused somewhere, so let’s get down & dirty. You can download the above Family in law chart here.

Spouses of siblings & cousins

Anh Chị You Em
Your older brother/cousin Your older sister/cousin You Your younger siblings & cousins(both male & female)

Add the word dâu for the wife, rể for the husband.

Wife of your older brothers or cousins (anh) chị dâu
your younger brothers or cousins (em) em dâu
your sons (con trai) con dâu
your grandsons (cháu trai) cháu dâu
your nephew (cháu trai) cháu dâu
Husband of your older sisters or cousins (chị) anh rể
your younger sisters or cousins (em) em rể
your daughters (con gái) con rể
your granddaughters (cháu gái) cháu rể
your niece (cháu gái) cháu rể

Here’s the catch: the husband-wife pair goes like this: anh-chị, em-em, con-con, cháu-cháu. You don’t address the in-law by their age, you address them by which sibling/cousin they are spouse of. Thus, even if chị dâu is younger than you, because she’s the wife of your older brother (anh), you’ll still call her chị (older sister), and so on.

Parents, grandparents, siblings & cousins in law

This one is easy. It is similar to when you use của to say something belongs to someone. Technically, it is
anh của chồng
older brother of husband
em (gái) của vợ
younger sister of wife
but we omit the word của: anh chồng, em vợ, ba má chồng (parents of husband), etc.

Note about Abbreviation

In everyday speaking, since everyone knows who’s who in the family, there is no need to call out the relationship. Everything is shortened to the first syllable: anh, chị, em, con, cháu, bố, mẹ, ông, bà, cô, bác, chú, etc.

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