Graphic speech bubble with 'Brother-in-law in Italian' on a baby blue background.

How to Say BROTHER-IN-LAW in Italian

Ho il cognato più generoso del mondo.
I have the most generous brother-in-law in the world. 

Even if you may not be as enthusiastic about your own brother-in-law, learn how to say cognato, the word for brother-in-law in Italian. Find out the trick to pronouncing cognato correctly, and how to use it. You’ll also learn how to say brothers-in-law, brother-in-law, siblings-in-law, and the rules for possessives and saying my brother-in-law



Cognato means brother-in-law in Italian: the husband of someone’s sibling, or the brother of someone’s spouse.  

Un cognato is a brother-in-law, while il cognato means the brother-in-law.

The pronunciation of un cognato and il cognato is: OOH-nah koh-NYAH-toh, eel koh-NYAH-toh

Listen to how to pronounce cognato here:

Io e il cognato di Paola siamo cresciuti insieme.
Paola’s brother-in-law and I grew up together. 

It may take some practice to pronounce cognato correctly: it all comes down to getting the knack of “gn”, which is pronounced completely differently from “gn” in English. GN in Italian makes a kind of NYUH sound, almost like the NY in canyon. Listen to how to pronounce the GN sound.

Unlike in English, the words in Italian for brother and brother-in-law have nothing to do with each other. The word for brother in Italian is fratello (a far cry from cognato). Learn all about brother in Italian


Cognati means brothers-in-law in Italian. Cognati is the plural of cognato

The pronunciation of cognati is: koh-NYAH-tee

Listen to how to pronounce cognati here:

Tancredi ha due cognati.
Tancredi has two brothers-in-law.

Cognati has two possible meanings. It can refer to a group of all brothers-in-law, or a group of brothers- and sisters-in-law: siblings-in-law. Keep reading to find out why!


To say my brother-in-law, use mio cognato. Usually possessives in Italian also require the direct article (the). For example: il mio amico means my (male) friend. However, family members are a big exception.

Do not use the direct article with the SINGULAR, unaltered nouns of most family members. If there is an adjective before or after the family member, use the article. Also, use the article with the possessive loro. 


mio cognato is my brother-in-law
tuo cognato is your brother-in-law (informal you) 
suo cognato is his/her/your brother-in-law (formal you) 
nostro cognato is our brother-in-law
vostro cognato your brother-in-law (plural you) 


Il loro cognato is their brother-in-law
Il mio cognato scozzese is my Scottish brother-in-law
I miei cognati is my brothers-in-law


Cognata means sister-in-law in Italian.

Una cognata means a sister-in-law, and la cognata means the sister-in-law

Ho una cognata molto gentile, e un cognato che non sopporto!
I have a very nice sister-in-law, and a brother-in-law who I can’t stand!

Woman rolling her eyes and putting a hand to her forehead.  In graphic speech bubble she complains about her brother in law.


There are two ways to say brothers- and sisters-in-law in Italian.

The first is cognati e cognate (literally: brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law).

However, because of how Italian word genders work, the plural masculine word cognati (brothers-in-law) can be used for a mixed group of brothers- and sisters-in-law: siblings-in-law. This is true even if there are 100 brothers-in-law and 2 sisters-in-law: just one man trumps a feminine group and turns the noun masculine, to cognati. So the word for siblings-in-law  in Italian is cognati

You may want to read more about Relatives in Italian.