purple background with graphic speech bubble of 'sister-in-law in Italian.'

How to Say SISTER-IN-LAW in Italian

Ho la cognata più generosa del mondo.
I have the most generous sister-in-law in the world. 

Even if you may not be as enthusiastic about your own sister-in-law, learn how to say cognata, the word for sister-in-law in Italian.

Find out the trick to pronouncing cognata correctly, and how to use it.

I’ll teach you how to say sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, siblings-in-law, and the rules for possessives and saying my sister-in-law

Andiamo – Let’s go!



Cognata means sister-in-law in Italian: the wife of someone’s sibling, or the sister of someone’s spouse.  

Una cognata is a sister-in-law, while la cognata means the sister-in-law.

The pronunciation of una cognata and la cognata is: OOH-nah koh-NYAH-tah, lah koh-NYAH-tah

Listen to how to pronounce cognata here:

Io e la cognata di Paolo siamo cresciute insieme.
Paolo’s sister-in-law and I grew up together. 

It may take some practice to pronounce cognata 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 sister and sister-in-law have nothing to do with each other. The word for sister in Italian is sorella (a far cry from cognata). Learn all about sister in Italian here. 


Older woman in wheelchair holds up two fingers and says in graphic speech bubble, 'Tancredi ha due cognate.'  She's weating sunglasses and an animal print shirt.

Cognate means sisters-in-law in Italian. Cognate is the plural of cognata

The pronunciation of cognate is: koh-NYAH-teh

Listen to how to pronounce cognate here:

Tancredi ha due cognate.
Tancredi has two sisters-in-law.


To say my sister-in-law, use mia cognata. Usually possessives in Italian also require the direct article (the). For example: la mia amica means my (female) 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. 


mia cognata is my sister-in-law
tua cognata is your sister-in-law (informal you) 
sua cognata is his/her/your sister-in-law (formal you) 
nostra cognata is our sister-in-law
vostra cognata your sister-in-law (plural you) 


La loro cognata is their sister-in-law
La mia cognata irlandese is my Irish sister-in-law
Le mie cognate is my sisters-in-law


Cognato means brother-in-law in Italian.

Un cognato means a brother-in-law, and il cognato means the brother-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!


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 sisters-in-law and 2 brothers-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