When I was being taught Mandarin Chinese- quite a few years ago- we were only taught 家人 as meaning family or family member. However Google translate returns 家庭 as the best option for 'family' and 家庭成员 for 'family member'. What is the distinction between these? Are they used in different contexts?

  • enter 家人 into jukuu, conclusion: 家人 can be used to mean "the family, one's family, the members of the family", use any number of available dictionaries to confirm google's answers. – user6065 Jun 18 '17 at 11:39
  • @user6065 Thank you for your reply. I was wondering however whether there is a subtlety in the usage of these terms. In any language there can be several terms whose 'definition' when translated to another language is exactly the same, but they are used in different contexts. For example is 家人 the common/colloquially used term and 家庭 the more formal term? – 21joanna12 Jun 18 '17 at 11:47
  • And also would one use for instance use only 家庭 when referring to family members and Google translate gives 家庭成员 because this is the literal translation of 'family' and 'member'? – 21joanna12 Jun 18 '17 at 11:48
  • bkrs: 家人 :household (one’s) family 1) family members 2) servant 1) 家中的人;一家人。 2) 平民;平民之家。 3) 旧时对仆人的称呼。 4) 指部属。 5) 指妇女。 家庭 :family; household; home: 大家庭 big family; extended family 富裕家庭 wealthy family 核心家庭 nuclear family 旧式家庭 old family 小家庭 small family 幸福家庭 happy family 血亲家庭 consanguine family 姻亲家庭 conjugal family 他出身于什么样的家庭? Of what family is he from? jiātíng family; household 1) 犹言家中。 2) 以婚姻和血统关系为基础的社会单位,成员包括父母、子女和其他共同生活的亲属。 3) 院落,庭院。 see more samples for 家庭 at jukuu also see 100 samples for 家庭成员 indicating general use – user6065 Jun 18 '17 at 21:16
up vote 1 down vote accepted

'家人' is a specific term for 'one's family'

For example: '我的家人在香港' (my family is in Hong Kong)

家人 can also refer to: 'individual(s) of one's family'. For example: '他是陳先生的家人' (He is Mr.Chan's family)

'家庭成员' is a specific term for 'member(s) of a family'/ family member(s)

We do not say: " My family members are in Hong Kong." in English; therefore, we don't say: "我的家庭成员在香港." in Chinese neither.

Similarly, we do not say: "He is Mr. Chan's family member" in English; therefore, we don't say: "他是陳先生的家庭成员" in Chinese neither.

We use the term '家庭成员' the same as 'family member(s) ' in English.

For example:

"Family members of the Chan family includes: Mr. and Mrs. Chan and their two daughters" (陳家的家庭成員包括:陳先生及夫人及其兩個女兒)

If you say: "Mr. Chan's family, are his wife and two daughters" then the translation would be: "陳先生的家人是他的妻子和兩個女兒”"

If you say: " Mr. Chan's family include he himself, his wife and two daughters" then the translation would be: “陳先生的家庭包括他自己,他的妻子和兩個女兒”

家庭 is a specific term for "Family"

家人 is a commonly used to describe close and family members, that have direct bloodline connection. 家族 resemble a whole "tribes". i.e. 家人, 家里人,家族人员。

However,成員 actually origin from Japan. i.e. 成員.構成員 メンバー(Meh O Bah [sounds like English member isn't it]), 家庭成员/家族の構成員。 Not forgetting Japan かてい(Kah Ten) 家庭.

Basically, you wouldn't see 成員 before the 18th century, nor 家庭. Chinese in various dialect rarely use 家庭成员 to describe the family members. In fact, 家庭成员 mostly used inside modern Chinese government document(China/Taiwan/HK ).

So it is awkward to say 我的家庭成员, Even though Mandarin speaker understands what you mean, but we will not use it.

Be careful that "家人" always means close ties than the word "兄弟"(brother, brotherhood).

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