Italian Word of the Day: Nipote (grandchild / nephew / niece)

Whereas in English, we have separate words for grandson, granddaughter, grandchild, nephew and niece, in Italian, there is just one word that covers them all: nipote (plural: nipoti).

the italian word for grandchild

In order to figure out which relative is being referred to, it helps to pay attention to the gender of the article or possessive adjective that precedes nipote.

For example, when talking about a grandson or nephew, nipote is preceded by the definite masculine article il (the), the indefinite masculine article un (a) or possessive masculine adjectives such as mio (my) or nostro (our).

Mio nipote suona il sassofono nella banda.

1) My grandson plays the saxophone in the band.
2) My nephew plays the saxophone in the band.

For a granddaughter or niece, the definite feminine article la (the), indefinite feminine article una (a) or possessive feminine adjectives are used instead (mia, nostra).

La nipote di Giulia è molto in gamba.

1) Giulia’s granddaughter is very smart.
2) Giulia’s niece is very smart.

In the same way, the plural nipoti can be translated as grandsons, granddaughters, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or the combined nieces and nephews.

Le tue nipoti sono più attive dei miei nipoti.

1) Your granddaughters are more active than my grandchildren.
2) Your nieces are more active than my nephews.
3) Your nieces are more active than my nieces and nephews.

The diminutive forms of nipotenipotino for a boy and nipotina for a girl – help to clarify the gender of the family member thanks to their gendered endings.

La nonna sta facendo addormentare il suo nipotino.

The grandmother is putting her little grandson to sleep.

Two words that derive from nipote are pronipote and bisnipote, both of which can translates as great-grandchild, great-grandson, great-granddaughter, great-nephew or great-niece.

Portrait of a young asian child
Mia nipote = My granddaughter / niece

If you’re feeling a little confused, you aren’t alone. Just remember that kinship terminology tends to be extremely variable across languages. For instance, neither English nor Italian distinguishes between an older brother and a younger brother, whereas Japanese makes a specific distinction with the terms ani (older brother) and otouto (younger brother).

Context and common sense also go a long way in helping you figure out the relationship between two people. For example, you can safely assume that a 21 year old talking about her nipote wouldn’t already have a grandchild! 😉

Ethics statement: Below you will find affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!

Lingopie (affiliate link) is the Netflix of language learning application that uses real TV shows and movies to help you learn a new language. You can choose a show to watch based on your fluency level, and use the interactive subtitles to get instant translations to help you learn quickly.

Are you interested in improving your Italian in a fun and stress-free manner? Then we highly recommend Serena Capilli's short stories in Italian (affiliate link), designed for beginners, advanced beginners, and lower intermediate learners (A1-B1 CEFR). These stories have been optimised for English speakers in search of a fun, laid-back learning experience! Read our full review here.

Leave a Comment