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German Vocabulary Lesson: German Family Tree

German is a West Germanic language that is related to other Germanic languages such as English, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. Spoken by approximately 105 million speakers throughout the world, the German language is an excellent choice to pursue for students interested in learning a second language. Learning the vocabulary words for the names of relatives in German is a good way to start learning the language. The following sections provide the German vocabulary words for male relatives, female relatives, and other relatives as well as a family tree activity to reinforce learning.

German Family Vocabulary

Begin the German vocabulary lesson by teaching the German words for family members. The German vocabulary words for male relatives with the singular noun first followed by the plural form are as follows:

  • der Bruder/die Brüder – brother
  • der Cousin/die Cousins – male cousin
  • der Enkelsohn/die Enkelsöhne – grandson
  • der Großvater/die Großväter – grandfather
  • der Halbbruder/die Halbbrüder – half-brother
  • der Mann/die Männer OR der Ehemann/die Ehemänner – husband
  • der Neffe/die Neffen – nephew
  • der Opa/die Opas – grandpa
  • der Schwager/ die Schwäger – brother-in-law
  • der Schwiegersohn/die Schwiegersöhne – son-in-law
  • der Schwiegervater/die Schwiegerväter – father-in-law
  • der Sohn/die Söhne – son
  • der Stiefsohn/die Stiefsöhne – stepson
  • der Stiefvater/die Stiefväter – stepfather
  • der Onkel/die Onkel – uncle
  • der Urgroßvater/die Urgroßväter – great-grandfather
  • der Vater/die Väter – father

The German vocabulary words for female relatives with the singular noun first followed by the plural form are as follows:

  • die Enkeltochter/die Enkeltöchter OR die Enkelin/die Enkelinnen – granddaughter
  • die Großmutter/die Großmütter – grandmother
  • die Frau/die Frauen OR die Ehefrau/die Ehefrauen – wife
  • die Halbschwester/die Halbschwestern – half-sister
  • die Kusine/die Kusinen – female cousin
  • die Mutter/die Mütter – mother
  • die Nichte/die Nichten – niece
  • die Oma/die Omas – grandma
  • die Schwägerin/die Schwägerinnen – sister-in-law
  • die Schwester/die Schwestern – sister
  • die Schwiegermutter/die Schwiegermütter – mother-in-law
  • die Schwiegertochter/die Schwiegertöchter – daughter-in-law
  • die Stieftochter/die Stieftöchter – stepdaughter
  • die Stiefmutter/die Stiefmütter – stepmother
  • die Tante/die Tanten – aunt
  • die Tochter/die Töchter – daughter
  • der Urgroßmutter/die Urgroßmütter – great-grandmother

The German vocabulary words for other relatives with the singular noun first followed by the plural form or just the plural form are as follows:

  • das Baby/die Babys – baby
  • die Eltern – parents
  • das Enkelkind/die Enkelkinder – grandchild
  • die Familie/die Familien – family
  • die Geschwister – siblings
  • die Großeltern – grandparents
  • das Kind/die Kinder – child

German Family Tree Activity

German language teachers can use the following family tree activity to allow students to practice their newly learned German family vocabulary. Begin by having the students fill out a family tree chart; the students can either drawn their own family trees or use the sample family tree (JPG or DOC). Next provide the students with the following phrases:

  • Wer ist…? – Who is…?
  • Wer sind…? – Who are…?
  • Dieser/Diese/Diese ist mein/meine… – This is my…
  • Diese sind meine… – These are my…
  • Mein/Meine…ist… – My…is…
  • Meine…sind… – My…are…

Finally, have the students tell each other about their family trees by asking each other questions about who is who using the above phrases.

Learning the vocabulary words for family members in the German language provides an excellent foundation for students learning this Germanic language. German teachers can use the above vocabulary list and classroom activity to teach students the vocabulary necessary for talking about relatives in German.


German Family Vocabulary Bundesarchiv http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-F079037-0017,_Lager_Friedland,_Familie_aus_Sibirien.jpg

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