Is it fratelli or fratelli e sorelle?
In this articles, I’ll teach you all about the different ways to say siblings in Italian, how to pronounce them and examples of how to use them.
You’ll find out about related words, like older siblings (fratelli maggiori), younger siblings (fratelli minori), and only child (figlio unico). You’ll also discover how Italians address their siblings, what they call their siblings, and how to say hey bro (ciao frà).
Table of Contents
SIBLINGS IN ITALIAN EXPLAINED
There are two ways to say siblings in Italian.
The first is fratelli e sorelle, which literally means brothers and sisters. Fratelli means brothers, and sorelle means sisters. Italians usually say them in this order, but you can also say sorelle e fratelli and it still means siblings (as well as sisters and brothers).
Sebastiano ha 10 fratelli e sorelle!
Sebastiano has 10 brothers and sisters!/Sebastiano has 10 siblings!
The pronunciation of fratelli e sorelle is: frah-TELL-ee eh soh-RELL-eh
Listen to how to pronounce fratelli e sorelle here:
In Italian, a double consonant is drawn out, and should take double the time of a single consonant. So make sure you give time to the double l’s in fratelli e sorelle. It may feel strange at first, but practice makes perfect!
The second way to say siblings in Italian is the word fratelli. ”What?” you’re probably thinking. “You just said that fratelli means brothers!”
It’s true, fratelli can mean brothers, and siblings. How? Because of how Italian word genders work, even though fratelli is a plural masculine noun, it can be used for a mixed group of brothers and sisters, or siblings. This is true even if there are 20 sisters and just 1 brother in the group.
Taddeo e Teresa sono fratelli.
Taddeo and Teresa are siblings.
A: Hai fratelli?
B: Sì, ho due sorelle e due fratelli.
A: Do you have any siblings?
B: Yes, I have two sisters and two brothers.
If you are referring to an all-female group of siblings, then use the word for sisters in Italian: sorelle.
On the other hand, to specify that you are speaking about just brothers or male siblings, use fratelli maschi.
A: Hai fratelli maschi?
B: No, ma ho 5 sorelle.
A: Do you have male siblings?
B: No, but I have 5 sisters.
The pronunciation of fratelli, sorelle and fratelli maschi is: frah-TELL-ee, soh-RELL-eh and frah-TELL-ee MAH-skee
Listen to how to pronounce fratelli, sorelle and fratelli maschi here:
Older siblings are called fratelli e sorelle maggiori in Italian, or fratelli maggiori. You can also say fratelli e sorelle più grandi, or fratelli più grandi.
Paola ha tre fratelli più grandi.
Paola has three older siblings.
Younger siblings are called fratelli e sorelle minori, or fratelli minori, in Italian. You can also say fratelli e sorelle più piccoli, or fratelli più piccoli. More ways to say younger siblings in Italian are fratelli e sorelle più giovani, or fratelli più giovani.
Io non ho fratelli e sorelle più piccoli.
I don’t have younger siblings.
A: Luigi, hai fratelli o sorelle?
B: No, sono figlio unico.
A: Luigi, do you have any brothers or sisters?
B: No, I’m an only child.
WHAT DO ITALIANS CALL THEIR SIBLINGS?
Here is the rundown on talking about siblings with possessive pronouns.
To say my siblings, Italians say:
i miei fratelli e le mie sorelle, or i miei fratelli
To say your siblings (informal, singular you), Italians say:
i tuoi fratelli e le tue sorelle or i tuoi fratelli
To say his or her siblings, Italians say:
i suoi fratelli e le sue sorelle or i suoi fratelli
To say your siblings (plural you), Italians say:
i vostri fratelli e le vostre sorelle or i vostri fratelli
To say our siblings, Italians say:
i nostri fratelli e le nostre sorelle or i nostri fratelli
To say their siblings, Italians say:
i loro fratelli e le loro sorelle or i loro fratelli
Italians are well known for having close knit families. For more about how to talk about la famiglia, read Family in Italian.
HOW DO ITALIANS ADDRESS THEIR SIBLINGS?
Italians usually address their siblings directly by name.
Margherita smetti di prendermi in giro o lo dico alla mamma!
Margherita, stop making fun of me or I’ll tell Mom!
Fratello mio che cosa farei senza di te?
Brother of mine, what would I do without you?
Sorella non ti sopporto più!
Sister, I can’t put up with you anymore!
To address two or more siblings at a time, Italians say:
- sorelle, if they are speaking to just sisters,
- fratelli e sorelle, if they are speaking to their brothers and sisters,
- fratelli if they are speaking to just brothers, or to their brothers and sisters.
Fratelli e sorelle, vi voglio bene!
Siblings I love you!/Brothers and sisters, I love you!
WHAT IS THE SLANG WORD FOR BROTHER IN ITALIAN?
Some young Italians use fratello when talking to a buddy or friend.
Ciao fratello come stai?
Hi buddy, how are you?
A shortened version of fratello– frà– is like bro in English, and is extremely informal.
Ciao frà, come butta?
Hey bro, how’s it going?