Vocabulary - describing family members

Relationships with family and friends

Relationships with family and friends are a key part of our lives. It's important to be able to talk about the people that matter to us. Family is very important in Spain, with many young people living with their parents well into their twenties, and then staying nearby when they move out.

Spanish people usually have two surnames. The first is the first surname from their father and the second is the first surname from their mother. For example, the children of Juan Gómez Alonso and María Rodríguez Zapatero would have the surnames Gómez Rodríguez.

Here are some useful words to talk about family members:

la madremother
el padrefather
los padresparents
la madrastrastepmother
el padrastrostepfather
el/la hermano/abrother/sister
el/la hermanastro/astep/half-brother/sister
el/la abuelo/agrandfather/grandmother
los abuelosgrandparents
el/la tío/auncle/aunt
el/la primo/acousin
el/la sobrino/anephew/niece
el/la hijo/ason/daughter
el/la hijo/a único/aonly child

Here are some words to describe what people look like:

Es ...He/she is ...
guapo/agood looking

Words like muy (very), bastante (quite) and un poco (a little) can make descriptions more interesting, eg creo que mi hermano es un poco feo (I think that my brother is a little ugly).

It's also useful to describe hairstyle and colour:

Tiene el pelo ...He/she has ... hair
... largo/corto/liso/rizado... long/short/straight/curly
... y rubio/moreno/blanco/negro/castaño/pelirrojoand blond/dark/white/black/brown/red...

eg mi hermano tiene el pelo corto y negro (my brother has short black hair).

You can also mention eye colour:

Tiene los ojos ...He/she has ... eyes
... azules/marrones/verdes... blue/brown/green

Other useful phrases are:

lleva gafashe/she wears glasses
tiene pecashe/she has freckles
tiene barba/bigotehe has a beard/moustache
es calvo/ahe/she is bald

Read the descriptions and choose the correct person.

Four characters - man with dark curly hair, lady with red hair, young boy with blonde hair, man with beard.

Es bastante alto. Tiene los ojos marrones, es calvo y tiene barba.

D. He is quite tall. He has brown eyes, he is bald and he has a beard.


Es muy pequeño y bajo. Tiene el pelo corto y rubio y lleva gafas.

C. He is very small and short. He has short, blond hair and he wears glasses.


Tiene el pelo muy largo y pelirrojo. Tiene los ojos verdes y tiene muchas pecas.

B. She has very long, red hair. She has green eyes and she has lots of freckles.


Tiene el pelo corto, rizado y negro. Tiene los ojos marrones y no lleva gafas.

A. He has short, curly, black hair. He has brown eyes and he doesn't wear glasses.