Family in Chinese

The traditional Chinese culture is very family oriented with an individual’s family being of the utmost importance. The character for family or home is 家 pinyin: jiā. The construction of this character is quite interesting. Over the top of the character is a roof. The rest of the character is 豕 pinyin:shǐ which is a character meaning pig. Anciently, if you had a roof over your head and owned a pig you had a home. A safe place to go to where you wouldn’t go hungry.

The character is very common and its uses are of great importance for anyone studying the language.

Here are just some of the ways the character is used.

Family家庭  jiā tíng
Hometown家乡jiā xiāng
Furniture家具  jiā jù
Family tree (genealogy)家谱jiā pǔ
Everybody大家dà jiā
Country (national family)国家guó jiā

It also refers to a person who is proficient or employed in certain arts or professions

Musician音乐家yīn yuè jiā
Artist (painter)画家huà jiā
Expert专家zhuān jiā
Scientist科学家kē xué jiā

There are also several popular phrases or sayings that use the character.

Housewife家庭主妇 jiā tíng zhǔ fù
Home style cooking家常菜jiā cháng cài
Family ugliness cannot be publicized. (Don’t air your dirty laundry.)家丑不可外扬jiā chǒu bù kě wài yáng
Every family has its problems.家家有难念的经jiā jiā yǒu běn nán niàn de jīng   

Family is important. Now that you know how to say family in Chinese, try learning some of the most common Chinese family surnames or try reading this story in Chinese about siblings.

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