I wanted to say I went to visit my husband’s parents and remembered 省亲, but after second thought and searched online and realized that it might only refer to visiting my parents instead of visiting my husband’s. Refer to 元春省亲 in 红楼梦. So, it seems that 省亲 might be the same as 回娘家?? If so, is there a similar word to say visiting my husband’s side? I know I can use 回婆家 or 探望公婆 But is there a two character word for this?

  • Out of curiosity, why do you need a two-character word for it?
    – dan
    Dec 4 '19 at 2:55
  • @dan because if 省亲 means to visit my parents only, then the two words contains a lot of things that I don't have to speak out. For example, when you're asked what to do over the holidays, you can say 省亲 then it means you will go to visit your parents not the in-laws. (of course it's not very colloquial, but if you're texting it's much better)
    – sylvia
    Dec 4 '19 at 3:17
  • 省亲 is rarely used nowadays. The close one could be 探亲, but it could be any of your relatives you want to pay a visit to.
    – dan
    Dec 4 '19 at 3:39

省亲 指探望父母,有时也指其他尊长,但断没有指戚家长辈的。因为中国古时在婚姻关系中男方地位远高于女方,而宗族一般又居住在一起,故女方嫁入男方家以后,自然天天跟公婆生活在一个屋檐下,并没有探望的需要,而男方是不会去探望女方的父母的。这样看来,媳妇探望公婆的事情没有传统的词语也很正常。


Does 省亲 only refer to visiting wife’s parents by the wife?

No, 省亲 refers to visiting parents or other older generation relatives

  • 省 in 省亲 has the meaning of 'observe; inspect'

  • 省亲 means "visit relatives (and see how they are doing, make sure they're OK.)" It can be the parents or other older generation relative. (you have to visit them to observe them)

  • 探 in 探亲 has the meaning of 'inspect; visit'

  • 探亲 also means "visit relatives (and see how they are doing) and it can be any relative.

省亲 is very similar to 探亲. The former is more literary and the latter is more colloquial.

To specifically state: "visiting wife’s parents by the wife" you have to write:

"我太太回娘家省亲(探望父母)了" (my wife returned to her maiden home to visit her parents)

娘家 can be replaced by 外家

If you just say "我太太回娘家了" (my wife has gone back to her maiden home) people might not know is she just went back for a visit or short stay or she's ran away from home and went back to live with her parents

It is perfectly fine to answer "上周你去哪儿了?" (where have you been last week) with a simple "去了探亲" (went to visit relatives) or "去了省亲" if the relatives were your parents, grand parents, uncle or aunt.


I went to visit my husband’s parents.
Wife:I went to visit my parents-in-law.
Husband: I went to visit my parents-in-law.
我去拜访了我的岳父岳母。(or 岳父母)

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