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Words for relatives

Swedish learner nunes89 asked for a table with all the relative terms in this discussion.

I made a short list as comment but thought I’d compile a ”släktträd” (family tree) which is available as a .pdf here.

Edit (2016-06-02): The original file has disappeared, so I have replaced it with smaller one, so you might have to zoom a bit.

Blue is male relatives, pink is female relatives and green are gender-neutral. The white ones are don’t have specific words, but are included to complete the tree.

Observe that the words for relatives are very flexible and in a dictionary you’ll also find e.g. ”morfarsfar” (father of your maternal grandfather) and ”sonsonson” (son of your son’s son) etc., but it’s hard to squeeze all the words in.

Most of the words are included in this table I made.

I apologise for the heteronormative gender-stereotypical tree, but it’s just to make it clear and illustrative.

Good luck!

November 26, 2014



Maybe we should say something about modern-day relatives. If your partner has children from a previous relationship, you can say that these kids are your bonusbarn. There are also words like plastpappa/plastmamma for your parents' new partners. If your parents have split up and now live with new people, the children of these people can be your plastsyskon (plastsyster, plastbror, or with the colloquial forms syrra/brorsa instead, plastsyrra, plastbrorsa), or you can use the forms with bonus- (bonussyskon etc).
The prefix plast of course means plastic and refers to this as a modern phenomenon + that it is not "organic".
The traditional word for this kind of relation is styv- (like the English step-): styvmor, styvfar, styvföräldrar, styvbarn, styvdotter, styvson, styvsyskon, styvsyster, styvbror etc. However, maybe because of all the evil stepmothers in the fairytales, or maybe because there's an implication of permanency in these words that does not suit the situation today, these words aren't very popular any longer. But, some people may feel that plast doesn't sound serious enough, so bonus- is probably the safest bet. (In Sweden, that is, I believe that the combinations with styv- are the preferred ones in Finland.)


I like the idea of adding "bonus" at the beginning of the words! Sounds like gifts or prizes! :D


"Buy a barn and get a bonusbarn for free!"


but if i consider more confortable to me using the styv-word, can i use it anyways??


People would understand you, but it doesn't sound nice to my ears. As Arnauti said, because of Disney, I think that a styvmor or styvfar is something bad.

I suggest using bonus-, it's easy to understand and has a bit more of a playful feel to it.


Free kids! Woo! :D


very useful, thanks! maybe sambo and the like would be useful too


Can you just keep bunging them on? Eg, morfarsfarsmorsfarsmorsmor, or farmorsfarsfarsmorsmorsfar?


Yes, but separated and only with an s every second time :):
morfars farmors farmors mor and farmors farfars mormors far.

You can listen to "Släkthuset" by Povel Ramel here.


Ah, cheers. :) Do you know the reason for the separation (considering barnbarnsbarn), or is it just that it's how it's done? :0


I guess it's because it makes more sense to say my grandchild's child rather than my child's grandchild. It also moves the point of stress in the word, it's slightly uncomfortable for me to say "barnsbarnbarn".


To add to your comment, usually if you have a compound word with three components (2+1), the -s will be after the first two components: fotboll+s+plan (with an -s-), but folk+tandvård (1+2, without an -s-).


... with the famous exception "Svenska Fotbollförbundet" where you have to really concentrate not to say fotbollsförbundet :).


I meant more why is it mormors farmors far and not mormorsfarmorsfar, since there's a single word for my grandchild's child (barnbarnsbarn) instead of two (ie, barnbarns barn). :)


It seems to work with a single word also for mormorsmor etc as long as it is a combo of three only :).


"Barnbarns barn" is perfectly correct to say as well.


sadly the pdf doesn't work anymore, but thanks for the explanation and the table!


I’ll look into it. Thanks.


sadly the pdf doesn't work anymore, but thanks for the explanation and the table!


Wow, that's an amazing resource, thank you for doing that.


Guys, please, help) In English, for example, we have a word "grandma" for Swedish "mormor" and "farmor". Imagine the situation, when someone asks: "Är det hennes mormor?" In English it would be just: "Is it her grandma?" And the answer would be, e.g., "Yes". But what would it be in Swedish? I hope that I am not mistaken if I think that it's not obligatory to know is this particular Swedish grandma father's mother or mother's mother)) What should I answer if I don't know such details? Or should I say smth like: "Mormor eller farmor"?)


It depends on the situation. It's not really as complicated as it sounds. If it's not your "mormor" but instead your "farmor" you simply say that. If you're the person asking the question you simply choose one to ask and expect the other person to tell you if it's the wrong one.

You don't have to make it complicated! Edge cases like yours rarely happen and are easily solved by saying a few extra words.


Okay, I see, thank you)


I gave the lingots for "I apologise for the heteronormative gender-stereotypical tree, but it’s just to make it clear and illustrative."


WTF? Heterosexuality must be the form for every society to not die out.


The pdf is not longer there


Does this family tree exist somehow? The link is dead, unfortunately. :/


Is it just me who's finding that the file is no longer available? =( I won't be too disappointed since it has been five years after all


Nice work! By the way, these "männing" thing is mostly used in northern Sweden, right? Do you know if it possible to say "tvåmänning" instead of cousin? I never use them myself, so I don't have a clue.


I think they are just alternative terms, but it seems as if they're mostly used in Northern Sweden according to Wikipedia. They also list "tvåmänning" which is also in SAOB. I've definitely heard/seen tremänning/fyrmänning, probably mostly in writing or from older people. I say "syssling" myself, but many people around me here in southern Sweden and my mother use "nästkusin".


Interesting! Apparently, "tvåmänning" can also be a plant or a Gotland boat :).


My girlfriend is from a village in Dalarna where they use två-/tre-/...männing.


What is the word for the wife of my " morbror".


We usually call her moster anyway. Or if we want to be clear, morbrors fru.


Really? I would never ever call her moster, it sounds weird, to me.


For me it depends. If they were already married when I was a kid and she's still around, I tend to speak about her as my moster (though if I speak more about her, I'll probably mention that she's my uncle's wife). But if my uncle gets married later on, she'll only ever be min morbrors fru.


That's interesting! In England, whenever my uncle gets married, his wife will always be my aunt. I would explain the relationship by clarifying that my uncle is my mother's brother.

Learning these nuances of thought are the bonuses of learning new languages. Thank you for sharing these insights. Tack så mycket!


Hey, i can´t find the family tree pdf. Its been three years :/ but is there a re-upload somewhere! it would help a lot. tack så mycket!


This link contains generations from SYSKON to TRASSLING and another from FAR to FRÄNKA



Tack så mycket! I've been looking for this for ages


The pdf that is refered to nolonger exists on Dropbox. Could the/a overview be added to the "Family" lessons? That might make it a bit more permanent.


Hey, I know it has been 6 years since you´ve made this, but the link for the family tree is not working :(


Ja! Useful for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday :) Tack så mycket

(I love the fact that great-grandchild is "barnbarnsbarn". Literally child child's child. Wonderfully simplistic.)


If they exist in Swedish, could I trouble you to include terms for half-siblings? Would it be halvbror and the like?


Yes, that’s correct. :)


Tack så mycket! Amazing work!

Quick question: the declensions column... The first term is used for the definitive form (familjen - the family) while the second one is used for indef plural (familjer - families and, if I am not wrong, familjerna - the families).

My question: why do the declensions with "barn are -0 and -en? I thought the definitive singular was -et (barmet - the child) and the plurals barn -children, barnen- the children. Am I wrong? Thank you :)


Well spotted. It’s a mistake, it should say barn, -et -0 just like syskon.


What do you call uncles and aunts by marriage? For example, your father's brother's wife?


You can also call them farbror/morbror/faster/moster or say ingift before if you want to specify: min ingifta moster e.g.


"gammel" or "gammal"?


It is gammelfarmor etc but old = gammal.


Cheers. Does "gammel" actually mean something in and of itself, then?


I guess it is just an old form of "gammal". Old is called "gammel" in Danish and in Norwegian.


Oh, okay. Interesting to know. Many thanks for that. :-D


And how does gamla fit in? I know this from gamla stan which means old city as far as I know.


den/ det/ de gamla (adjective) also

gamla to make a difference between some concepts with the same name (quite like in English): gamla stilen vs nya stilen = the Julian calendar vs the Gregorian, Gamla världen - Nya världen = Old World - New World, Gamla testamentet - Nya testamentet = Old Testament - New Testament


what about the relatives that are not colored? Are they gender-neutral too?


Blue is male relatives, pink is female relatives and green are gender-neutral. The white ones are don’t have specific words, but are included to complete the tree.


What is the word for an aunt or uncle by marriage? For instance my Uncle Mike is Morbror Mike, because he is my mother's brother. But what would his wife, my Aunt Mary Beth be called? Is there a word for that?


You can call her "moster" if you want, or "morbrors fru".


do you ever use tant instead of moster?


Hi, thanks for this!

Wife is "fru" and husband is "man", right? Is there a gender-neutral term for spouse/partner?

Also, a gender-neutral term for sibling-in-law (svåger/ska)?


Usually the word for spouse is make for a man and maka for a woman. We use the gender-neutral word partner (-n, -0/-s) for partner in general, but I can’t think of a gender-neutral word for spouse. There is also sambo if you live together in a relationship without being married.

I’m afraid we don’t have a neat gender-neutral word like sibling-in-law. One could imagine svärsyskon but it’s not used.


What about gemål = spouse


Good suggestion!


aahh, tack så mycket!


The file is no longer available :(


Yep, could someone repost it please?


Isn't there a word for a cousin in male or female form?

Dutch does that.


No, with kusin you have to specify the sex, just as in English


Can´t find the pdf tree, even the replaced one. i made a comment on that yesterday, but my comment did see the light of existance :/


pdf link is down again


In Turkish we have the same logic as swedish when we say maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother. But swedish do it for every relative so ı like it sooo much! Especially barnbarn


Hi, the file disappeared again.


Tack så mycket!


sororal and fraternal daughter = niece; sororal and fraternal son = nephew


This is amazing. Tack så mycket!


tack så mycket! very helpful


Tack så mycket for this, It is really helpful, and - in some cases, quite logical!


Thank you so much for this (and especially for the apology)!


Tack så mycket! There goes a lingot for you.


Your PDF is exactly what I needed. I was starting to get confused about the different words for family members, but now it all make sense. Will I be able to memorise it all, this is another kettle of fish. Thanks very much for your effort on this. Tack så mycket!


Tacks sa myket! (Sorry can't make the little mark over the a in sa.) This is brilliant! so helpful!


awesome! tack så mycket


Tack så mycket, Lundgren. Som jag är interessad (oops - intresserad) av släktforskning, det här är jätte useful (användbar). Det saknas bara ett ord för mig: bryllingar (third cousins).


Det finns med. Titta längst till höger i trädet.


Ah! Där är det! Tack ska du ha!


*Då jag är intresserad av släktforskning är det här jätteanvändbart


Thank you so much!


Thank you! You are a legend!


Wow, thanks very much. This is very, very helpful!


The file (in Dropbox) has disappeared again :(


couldn't find the pdf. plz help.


Is the 'svär/svår' component of the in-laws related to 'att svara'? I can imagine that it's linked to the fact that you become that particular relative because you answer 'yes' at the wedding ceremony.


For brorson, etc. I think you meant "fraternal nephew", etc.


Thank you this is appreciated


Don't apologize for "heteronormativity," straight relationships are more common than gay ones so it makes sense that you would use it as an example!


There is nothing wrong with hetero-normative. It's how God made us.


Many people also debate that there is no god. Any living creature is down to purely biology, and evolution. :)

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