Members of the Family in Sinhala

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You probably know from the recent announcement I made that D”Family in Sinhala” ended up being what the majority of you wanted me to write about next.

But then… did I shoot myself in the foot by building all this pressure?

I could’ve just written what I wanted to and everyone would’ve been fine with it. But noooo… Not only did I ask you what I should write about, I even asked what you wanted to see in it.

Now expectations were running high.

But you know something weird? I kind of enjoyed the pressure I had created for myself! I felt like.. like Thomas Crown (the Pierce Brosnan version of course) in that last scene when he told the police precisely when he’ll put the stolen painting back right under their noses.

(Yeah that’s right. Sadly, I just compared myself to Thomas Crown. As Dalí once supposedly said “Modesty is not exactly my specialty”).

So, let’s see what I came up with. Will it be a resounding success or an utter failure? And if the latter happens, well… (to borrow the lyrics from the theme song of that same movie) “Oh Jayasinha-man, where you gonna run to?”…


How I’ve approached this

I’ve primarily focused on direct family members (obviously) but I also touched on the in-laws since, from your feedback, I understood that MANY of you have Sri Lankan partners who came prepackaged with hundreds of in-laws.

I’ve also only focused on “spoken” Sinhala words, which is what this blog is all about. You won’t find many formal “prim & proper” Sinhala words here.

And as you’ve already seen from the image above, I’ve also used my limited knowledge of digital art to summarize this post.

I’ve grouped the family members as follows:

  • Generation (+2): Your grandparents
  • Generation (+1): Your parents, parents-in-law, uncles, & aunts
  • Generation 0: Your spouse, siblings, & cousins
  • Generation (-1): Your children, nephews, & nieces
  • Generation (-2): Your grandchildren


But before any of that, let’s start with the basics. The word for FAMILY in Sinhala.


Word for FAMILY in Sinhala

Family pauw∙lȧ       

Sample Phrase:

  • “This is my family” = mḗ ma∙gé pauw∙lȧ


Got it?

Now let’s go on to the actual names for various members of the family in Sinhala.

Important Note#1: Obviously, you don’t need to know all the words below. Just focus on the ones that are important to you.

Important Note#2: Have fun.


Family in Sinhala: Generation (+2)

Generation-plus-2-1Your Grandparents

Grandfather see∙ya       
Grandmother aach∙chi       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my grandfather” = mḗ ma∙gé see∙ya
  • “This is my grandmother” = mḗ ma∙gé aach∙chi


Did you also know?

  • (As far as I know) there is no stand-alone word for “grandparents” in Sinhala. Instead we use “aach∙chi” & “see∙ya” together. For example:
    • “These are my grandparents” would be “mḗ ma∙gé aach∙chiyi see∙yayi”
      • The “yi” represents the word “And” (will talk about this more in a future blog post)
      • Literally, this sentence reads “This is my grandmother and grandfather”


Family in Sinhala: Generation (+1)

Parents in SinhalaYour Parents

Parents dhé∙mauw∙pi∙yo       
Father thaath∙tha       
Mother am∙ma       


Sample Phrases:

  • “These are my parents” = mḗ ma∙gé dhé∙mauw∙pi∙yo
  • “This is my father” = mḗ ma∙gé thaath∙tha
  • “This is my mother” = mḗ ma∙gé am∙ma


Did you also know?

  • Instead of saying “mḗ ma∙gé dhé∙mauw∙pi∙yo” (“These are my parents”), you could also use use “am∙ma” & “thaath∙tha” (just like we did with the grandparents above). For example:
    • “These are my parents” can alternatively be said as “mḗ ma∙gé am∙mayi thaath∙thayi” (“This is my mother and father”).
    • Once again, the “yi” represents “And”.
  • Sometimes, when affectionately addressing your parents, you could say “thaath∙thi” (instead of “thaath∙tha”) and “am∙mi” (instead of “am∙ma”).
    • In English, this is similar to “Daddy” or “Mommy” instead of “Father” or “Mother”, which sounds way too formal.
    • In some families, instead of “thaath∙tha”, you might hear the name “ap∙pach∙chi” being used. This is a more traditional way of addressing your father.


Uncles Aunts in Sinhala-1Your Uncles & Aunts – FATHER’S Side

What you first need to know:

  • Now, when it comes to the brothers and sisters of your parents, in English, we just call them “Uncle” or “Aunt”, right? It doesn’t matter if they’re older or younger than your parents.
  • Nor does it matter if he or she is from your father’s side or your mom’s side. Booooring…
  • However, in Sinhala we don’t do “boring”… So, we have specific names for uncles and aunts depending on:
    1. whose sibling they are (mother’s or father’s); and
    2. if they’re older or younger than your parent

Let’s start with your father’s side siblings. As you’ll see in the table below, the word for your father’s older brother will not be the same as the word for his younger brother. Same goes for his sisters.


Father’s older brother (Uncle) lo∙ku   thaath∙tha       
Father’s younger brother (Uncle) baap∙pa       
Father’s older sister (Aunt) lo∙ku   næn∙dha       
Father’s younger sister (Aunt) pun∙chi   næn∙dha       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my uncle” (father’s older brother) = mḗ ma∙gé loku thaaththa
    “This is my aunt” (father’s younger sister) = mḗ ma∙gé pun∙chi næn∙dha


Did you also know?

  • “lo∙ku” means “big”; and “thaath∙tha” (as you just learned) means “father”; so, the word for your father’s older brother (“lo∙ku thaath∙tha”) means “Big father”
    • Sometimes your father’s older brother can also be called “ma∙hap∙pa”
  • “pun∙chi” means “small”; and “næn∙dha” means “aunt”; so actually the word for your father’s younger sister (“pun∙chi næn∙dha”) means “Small aunt”
    • Another word for “small” is “po∙di” so in some families, you might also hear “po∙di næn∙dha” being used instead of “pun∙chi næn∙dha”)



Uncles Aunts in Sinhala-1Your Uncles & Aunts – MOTHER’S Side

Mother’s older brother (Uncle) lo∙ku   maa∙ma       
Mother’s younger brother (Uncle) pun∙chi   maa∙ma       
Mother’s older sister (Aunt) lo∙ku   am∙ma       
Mother’s younger sister (Aunt) pun∙chi   am∙ma       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my uncle” (mother’s older brother) = mḗ ma∙gé loku maa∙ma
    “This is my aunt” (mother’s younger sister) = mḗ ma∙gé pun∙chi am∙ma


Did you also know?

  • Once again notice that:
    • “lo∙ku” means “big”; and “am∙ma” (as you just learned) means “mother”; so actually the word for your mother’s older sister (“lo∙ku am∙ma”) means “Big mother”
    • “pun∙chi” means “small”; so actually the word for your mother’s younger sister (“pun∙chi am∙ma”) means “Small mother”


Parents in SinhalaYour Spouse’s Parents

Father-in-law maa∙man∙di       
Mother-in-law næn∙dham∙ma       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my father-in-law” = mḗ ma∙gé maa∙man∙di
  • “This is my mother-in-law” = mḗ ma∙gé naen∙dham∙ma


Did you also know?

  • “naen∙dham∙ma” is a compound word made up of “naen∙dha” (Aunt) + “am∙ma” (Mother). So actually, the word for “mother-in-law” means “Aunt-Mother”. This is something to squeeze into the conversation the next time you’re trying to impress her.


Generation 0

spouse & me in SinhalaYour Spouse

What you first need to know:

  • The words below are those that I think are most often used in conversation when referring to a “husband” or “wife”.
  • Some may argue with me on this… so bring it on. I’m ready.


Husband ma∙hath∙thȧ∙ya       
Wife nō∙na       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my husband” = mḗ ma∙gé ma∙hath∙thȧ∙ya
  • “This is my wife” = mḗ ma∙gé nō∙na


Did you also know…

  • A more “elegant” but less frequently used way to refer to your spouse would be the following;
    • “Husband” = sæ∙mi∙ya (instead of “ma∙hath∙thȧ∙ya”)
    • “Wife” = bi∙riňdhȧ (instead of nō∙na)
    • You’re most likely to hear this version on TV discussions or public speeches but very rarely in day-to-day conversation so for now, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it.

brothers & sisters in sinhalaYour Brothers & Sisters

General terms for “brother” and “sister”

Brother sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙ya       
Sister sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙ri∙yȧ       


Specific terms for “brother” and “sister”

  • Remember how we had specific names for the siblings of your parents based on their relative seniority? Well, similarly, we have specific names for your own siblings depending if they’re older or younger than you.
  • In English, while we just say “Older brother” or “Younger Brother”, in Sinhala, as you’ll see below, we have a unique word for each.


Older brother ayi∙ya       
Younger brother mal∙li       
Older sister ak∙ka       
Younger sister nan∙gi       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my brother” (general) = mḗ ma∙gé sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙ya
  • “This is my sister” (general) = mḗ ma∙gé sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙ri∙yȧ
  • “This is my brother” (older) = mḗ ma∙gé ayi∙ya
  • “This is my brother” (younger) = mḗ ma∙gé mal∙li
  • “This is my sister” (older) = mḗ ma∙gé ak∙ka
  • “This is my sister” (younger) = mḗ ma∙gé nan∙gi


Did you also know…

  • In families that have more than one brother or sister, they tend to use the words “lo∙ku”, “pun∙chi”, and “po∙di” to identify each other.
  • For example, in my father’s family (oh wait, I can now say, my “thaaththa’s pauw∙lȧ”) his younger sisters call their oldest brother “lo∙ku ayi∙ya” and they call my father (who is in between) “pun∙chi ayi∙ya”. See what I mean?
  • Like with “thaath∙thi” (instead of “thaath∙tha”) and “am∙mi” (instead of “am∙ma”), in some families you might hear…
    • “ak∙ka” being affectionately called “ak∙ki” (Thanks Zeta for your comment that reminded me to add this)
    • “mal∙li” being called “mal∙la”
    • “nan∙gi” being called “nan∙ga”


brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Brother-in-law & Sister-in-law

In this section I’m referring to the individuals married to your brother or sister.

Brother-in-law mas∙si∙na       
Sister-in-law nǣ∙na       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my brother-in-law” = mḗ ma∙gé mas∙si∙na
  • “This is my sister-in-law” = mḗ ma∙gé nǣ∙na


Did you also know…

  • Just like in English, these same words can also be used for your spouse’s siblings (I’ve explained this below under “Spouse’s Siblings”)


brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Cousins

Male cousin nyaa∙thi   sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙ya       
Female cousin nyaa∙thi   sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙ri∙yȧ       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my cousin” (male) = mḗ ma∙gé nyaa∙thi sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙ya
  • “This is my cousin” (female) = mḗ ma∙gé nyaa∙thi sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙ri∙yȧ


Did you also know?

  • “nyaa∙thi” means “relative” (as in, someone ‘related’ to you)
    • You also now know that “sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙rȧ∙ya” means “brother” and “sa∙hō∙dhȧ∙ri∙yȧ” means “sister”.
    • So actually…
      • The word for “Male cousin” translates to “relative brother”
      • The word for “Female cousin” translates to “relative sister”
  • It’s becoming more and more common to use the word “cousin” even in Sinhala (although it’s typically pronounced “kȧ∙sin”).
  • Depending if the person is older or younger to you, we would add the words for our siblings after the word “kȧ∙sin”. For example:
    • Older cousin (male) = “kȧ∙sin ayi∙ya”
    • Older cousin (female) = “kȧ∙sin ak∙ka”
    • Younger cousin (male) = “kȧ∙sin mal∙li”
    • Younger cousin (female) = “kȧ∙sin nan∙gi”


brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Spouse’s Siblings

What you first need to know:

  • You’ll notice that these are the same as what we used before… This is just like in English (phew finally, something familiar, right?)
Brother-in-law mas∙si∙na       
Sister-in-law nǣ∙na       


Generation (-1)

brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Children

What you first need to know:

  • Just a warning… if you speak Spanish, I GUARANTEE that you’re not going to forget the Sinhala word for “son” that easily…


Children la∙mayi       
Son pu∙thaa       
Daughter dhu∙wȧ       


What did I tell you?… Pretty close to a famous Spanish word, right? If ever you hear a Sri Lankan father call his son “puthaa”, just know that he’s not mad at him.


Sample Phrases:

  • “These are my children” = mḗ ma∙gé la∙mayi
  • “This is my son” = mḗ ma∙gé pu∙thaa
  • “This is my daughter” = mḗ ma∙gé dhu∙wȧ


brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Son-in-law & Daughter-in-law

Son-in-law bǣ∙na       
Daughter-in-law lē∙li       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my son-in-law” = mḗ ma∙gé bǣ∙na
  • “This is my daughter-in-law = mḗ ma∙gé lē∙li

brother & sister in law in sinhalaYour Nephew & Niece

“Erm..Dilshan… Did you forget the table for this section?”

No, my hawk-eyed perceptive friend, I didn’t. Let me explain.

  • In spoken Sinhala, as far as I know, there isn’t a word for neither “Nephew” or “Niece” (once again, correct me if I’m wrong… but remember, I’m talking about “spoken” Sinhala).
  • Instead, what we usually do is use the actual relationship to refer to the nephew or niece. Let’s break it down in the way I usually do:
    • You now know that “younger brother” is “mal∙li”
    • You also know from Episode 2 of the Video Tutorials and Session 4 of the podcast that to create the possessive of a personal pronoun, we just add the suffix “gé” to the end.
    • This means that “Younger brother’s” would be = “mal∙li” + “gé” = “mal∙li∙gé”
    • You now know that “son” is “pu∙thaa” (Spanish speakers, that’s enough, settle down…)
    • So, you would refer to your nephew (who happens to be your younger brother’s son) as mal∙li∙gé pu∙thaa, which literally means “younger brother’s son”
  • Similarly, “Younger brother’s daughter” would be = mall∙igé dhu∙wȧ.

Lazy But Smart Pop QuizQuestion mark shadow

Using what you just saw can you guess what the following would be?

  • Your niece – who happens to be your older brother’s daughter?
  • Your nephew – who happens to be your younger sister’s son?

(Leave your answers in the comments below)


Final Section:

Generation (-2)

grandchildren in sinhalaYour Grandchildren

And in our final section, we’ll end with the little ones, the grandchildren, something that my father has been asking me for ages now, which I’ve always brushed off saying “yeah yeah, later”.


Grandson mu∙nu∙pu∙raa       
Granddaughter mi∙ni∙bi∙ri∙yȧ       


Sample Phrases:

  • “This is my grandson” = mḗ ma∙gé mu∙nu∙pu∙raa
  • “This is my granddaughter = mḗ ma∙gé mi∙ni∙bi∙ri∙yȧ



Let me know what you thought about this post. Leave all your questions below (and click the “notify” box when you do).

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62 Responses to Members of the Family in Sinhala

  1. Wee Ck November 24, 2013 at 09:41 #

    NamoBuddhaya Dilshan,

    You have done it again… Ever since I found your blog, I have been listening you your 8 podcast and they never fail to get my attention. I want to learn to speak and understand Sinhala as I have Sri Lankan friends that are not well verse in English.

    You have made it possible for me to at least try to speak simple and smart Sinhala.

    I must be honest, it is not easy and I have to replay again and again. I want to lie able to naturally converse and sometime understand my Sinhala friends.

    Keep it up! Your passion for breaking the Sinhala language down to people like me is deeply appreciated….bohooma sthuuthiyi…thank you very much…

    p/s I hope I got it right…

    With Metta
    Wee Ck

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 24, 2013 at 10:49 #

      HI Wee,

      You’re very generous with your compliments. Thank you, I really appreciate it. And yes, you got “bohooma sthuuthiyi” right, well done.

      My advice would be to first focus on speaking a few a words and phrases and only after that to try to understand what your friends are saying. The reason I say this is because most Sri Lankans tend to speak Sinhala rather quickly and I know many of my readers who have got discouraged because they don’t immediately understand what people are saying. Therefore, I think that if you approach it by first developing your range of understanding, later on it should be easy for you “decode” the Sri Lankan who speaks Sinhala at lightning speed.

      Keep up your enthusiasm for learning. I am glad to be able to help you.

  2. Sue November 24, 2013 at 10:08 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    Brilliant! Your content, explanations and pronunciation guide are, as always, clear, concise, comprehensive and enjoyable. Thank you!

    Is there a word in Sinhala for step-father?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 24, 2013 at 10:59 #

      Hi Sue,

      I’m happy that it didn’t come across as too confusing. I can appreciate that it’s not that easy to digest all the new words at one time so I’m very glad that I managed to simplify it to some extent. Thanks for all those flattering adjectives too, very kind of you.

      About “Step-father”, I’ll have to double-check this but I believe you could say either “ku∙dȧ thaath∙tha” or “ku∙dap∙pa”. But let me get back to you once I ask this from people who know Sinhala better than me.

      I do know for sure that “step-mother” is “ku∙dam∙ma” but only 80% sure about “step-father”.

      • Dilshan Jayasinha November 27, 2013 at 19:22 #

        UPDATE: Turns out, I was right about “ku∙dap∙pa” but TOTALLY WRONG about “ku∙dȧ thaath∙tha” (I have no clue, when or where this entered my head. Must have confused ti with another similar sounding word I guess).

        I also found out that a more elegant way would be to say “su∙lu ma∙wȧ” (for “step-mother”) and “su∙lu pi∙yaa” (for “step-father”) although keep in mind that it is not that often used in day-to-day convos.

  3. Ingrid November 24, 2013 at 13:03 #

    Hello Dilshan,

    I am very enthusiastic about your blog and have recommended it to several people and all of them agree with me, that there ain’t no better way of learning sinhala!
    Your latest addition is as delightful and formidable as all the previous ones.
    Hats off to that perfect and easy to understand family tree drawing. You are one hell of a multi talented… god-sent fellow! :)
    Thank you once again.

    As for the quiz my answers are:
    in this particular case niece is ayi-ya-ge dhu-wa
    and nephew is nan-gi-ge pu-thaa

    Please check a ‘tiny beauty blemish’ in section Generation (-1) Your children:
    When clicking on sound icon for dhu-wa one hears you
    pronouncing the word nan-gi.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 24, 2013 at 14:43 #

      Hi Ingrid,

      First off all, thanks for pointing out the error in the sound file. Looks like my brain had a hiccup at that point :) It has been corrected now thanks to you.

      Thank you also for the amazingly positive feedback about my modest little blog (“there ain’t no better way of learning sinhala!”). It makes me very happy that you’ve told your friends about it too.

      “One hell of a multi talented… god-sent fellow!”… haha, now THAT is going either onto my CV (if I can find it) or my headstone, or both! :) People close to me accuse me (they’re wrong of course…) of having a larger than average ego… Let’s just say that your comment doesn’t help…

      Seriously though, thanks for the awesome compliment.

      Regarding the quiz, correct on both. Well done.

      Now, are you ready for a slightly more difficult one?… Here goes:

      Instead of using “nyaathi sahodhariya” or “kasin nangi” how else would you introduce your female cousin who happens to be the daughter of your aunt (your mother’s younger sister). Clue: You need to translate the phrase: “This is my mother’s younger-sister’s daughter”. All you need to answer this is in the post above.

      Thanks again for the comment.

  4. Nalaka November 24, 2013 at 16:09 #

    Ayubowan Dilshan Mahattaya/./

    This is awesome…..Everything is perfect and so easy to follow…
    The photo of the family is absolutely remarkable….

    Great work

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 24, 2013 at 17:03 #

      Thank you Nalaka. Yes, the image took longer than I expected but based on the feedback I’ve been getting so far by comments and by email, I feel like it was totally worth it. Thanks again.

  5. Ingrid November 24, 2013 at 16:59 #

    Hello Dilshan,

    Your sense of humor is wonderful!

    And here’s my home work:

    I would introduce her simply as “me ma-ge pun-chi am-mage dhu-wa”.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 24, 2013 at 17:05 #

      Somebody is “in the zone” tonight! :) Well done again.

      Have a great week ahead and speak to you soon.

  6. Laura November 24, 2013 at 21:05 #

    Awesome. And really useful too: boyfriend says “fella knows what he’s doing”. He also told me that you can also use “atha” and “loku thaaththa” for grandfather too (even though the use of one or another seems to be more of a cultural/religious thing…) and that you commonly refer to other people (especially older ones) as “uncle” or “aunty” out of respect.
    Anyway, congrats on the family tree: I should probably refer my Genetics professor to you …
    Take care,
    Have a nice week


    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 25, 2013 at 05:36 #

      Hi Laura, yes, “atha” is also possible (in fact, even “muththa”) but I didn’t want to overload you guys with the 101 different names for grandfather :) I must admit that I’ve never heard of “loku thaaththa” being used for grandfather though, are you sure he didn’t mean “loku seeya”? But perhaps like you said, it’s probably referred to in that way in some regions of Sri Lanka.

      And yes, another reader of mine also asked me about the generic “uncle” and “aunty” that is used to refer to anyone in a generation above you. I didn’t squeeze that in here as I am thinking of doing a post on “addressing someone in Sinhala”.

      Thanks also for the nod of approval from your boyfriend. Huge compliment when it comes from a fellow Sri Lankan. Take care and have a great week too.

  7. Chandra November 25, 2013 at 05:12 #

    Dilshan, You have done a wonderful job, especially your digital art work is very age appropriate.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 25, 2013 at 05:39 #

      Thanks Chandra for the positive feedback. Although I didn’t quite understand what you meant by “age appropriate”. Did you mean that I (for once) didn’t use any semi-rude words as I sometimes tend to do, or did you mean that the font size etc was large enough, for anyone to be able to read it? Do let me know as it will help me for the future. Thanks again for your comment.

  8. feroj November 25, 2013 at 07:13 #

    thanks. It will help me lot

  9. Casbot November 25, 2013 at 09:18 #

    Thank you once again, Dilshan! It seems you’re right in tune with what everyone wants to learn… it’s relevant because recently my Sri Lankan bf laughed at me when he found out I thought the people he called ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’ were his actual blood-or-marriage-related uncles and aunts… we often go to his maama’s house for dinners and the other ‘uncles’ are often there – but now I have just found out they’re not really related at all… Bf found it hilarious :-/

    Also, it goes a long way to explaining my Sri Lankan friends’ use of ‘cousin sister’ and ‘cousin brother’ to refer to female or male cousins. When I first heard one say ‘cousin sister’, I thought he was saying ‘cousin’s sister’ and I said ‘isn’t your cousin’s sister your cousin as well?’ so confusing!

    Anyway, my bf also thinks your blog is excellent, and that’s saying something because he usually scoffs derisively at the other material I’ve used to try learning Sinhala. This is by far the best thing. I played one of your podcasts for him, too, and he said, ‘this guy is good.’ That’s high praise, coming from him ;)

    Just five days until I’m in your homeland! I’ll definitely be studying up right until my flight lands in Bandaranaike…

    PS. Are those pot bellies on the male graphics?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 25, 2013 at 09:56 #

      Thanks Cass, glad you find it useful. Yes,I definitely should write up something separate on addressing people in Sinhala such as “uncle”, “aunty”, etc. That is funny that you thought your boyfriend had so many uncles.

      So true about the confusion that comes with “cousin sister” and “cousin brother”. When i moved to Europe I remember this was one of the things I consciously removed from my vocabulary since I soon found out that it was not a common way to refer to a cousin.

      I’m flattered that your boyfriend liked my blog. Always nice to hear that from a fellow Sri Lankan. Thank you.

      In case I don’t speak to you before your trip, have an excellent journey and I hope you have a memorable one over here.

      Yes, the pot bellies were perfect for this post. Having met your boyfriend’s maamas and baappas, I’m sure you’ll agree. :) Thanks again for your comment.

  10. Ali November 25, 2013 at 18:42 #

    Hi Dilshan, i just wanted to learn Sinhala names of few family members, but your family tree picture and the flash cards are much better.
    Also as a person with a limited attention span for anything written (including lessons) , it seems your video tutorials are very good and easy to learn. So thank you for all your hard work and hope to see more lessons in the future. Thanks.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 26, 2013 at 18:35 #

      Thanks Ali, that’s very cool of you to say. You’re welcome my friend.

      I know what you mean about the “limited attention span”. I too get bored easily by things (I don’t think it’s exactly the same as short attention span) but in the same family I suppose. So I need to entertain myself time and again, which is what I try to do when I produce anything on the blog. That’s why whenever silly things pop into my head that I find funny, I end up including it in the post, for example, Thomas Crown references in this post – probably there are those who don’t get the reference, but hey, it made me giggle like a little girl…).

      Hope to hear from you again. Take care and thanks again for the comment.

      • Julie November 28, 2013 at 00:18 #

        well done Dilshan! It seems that I am the only one of your readers who won’t need these complicated relative things, cause there is no Sri Lankan Boy friend or whatever whose family I could meet – nevertheless: your way of writing is again so very entertaining (including the Thomas Crown or the puthaa remark…) and amusing that even I got kind of interested in these uncles and aunties and sister cousin crowd :-) that I’ve started to learn this blog too.
        Looking forward whats coming up next :-)

        • Dilshan Jayasinha November 30, 2013 at 05:57 #

          Thanks Julie!

          Sorry for the delay in getting back to you but like i mentioned in my email to you, i’m currently traveling. Glad that you were able to enjoy this post (and my silly comments…) and more importantly, to learn some thing. Hopefully, it will be useful knowledge for you,someday. Take care and thanks again.

  11. Fan November 27, 2013 at 15:16 #

    hondayi! isthoosi!

  12. Dom November 28, 2013 at 15:01 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    one question pls : when you call some one, for example an auntie whose name is Clarabelle, would you say, ” hi punchi nændha Clarabelle ? ” or do you say only ” hi Aunt Clarabelle ? ”
    thank you

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 30, 2013 at 06:09 #

      Hi Dom,

      For your first suggestion, the order of the words should be reversed. For instance, my father’s older brother’s name is Sunil so he is sometimes addressed as “Sunil Loku Thaaththa” (the name comes first). So in your example this would be “Clarabelle punchi naendha”.

      For your second suggestion, once again, the name should be in front but i’ll also add that instead of “aunt” it is more common to say “aunty” or “aenty” (the latter is a sinhala modified version of aunty). So in your case that would be either “Clarabelle aunty” or “Clarabelle aenty”.

      Let me know if that’s clear?

      • Dom December 13, 2013 at 08:26 #

        Hi Dilshan,
        yes this is ok thank you :)
        i ll go with Clarabelle aenty for now untill i remember the other words.
        So for men, do we say ” John uncle ” then ?
        Jaya wewa

        • Dilshan Jayasinha December 13, 2013 at 08:46 #

          Yes exactly, “John Uncle”, this is the most common. Although “Uncle John” (or even “Aunty Clarabelle”) can also be said.

  13. Julie November 30, 2013 at 13:09 #

    Hey Dilshan,
    in connection with Dom’s question I have a further one in respect of names. How does that work with family names? It seems to me that people who call themselves as sister and brother don’t have the same family name…!? Am I totally wrong or what is the rule like?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 30, 2013 at 14:12 #

      Hmm… I think I know the source of the confusion. Let’s see. First of all, in Sri Lankan families, the son and daughter of the family will have the same family name (At least this is the case in Sinhalese families, although i’m fairly certain it’s the same in Tamil families – anybody, please feel free to correct me if I’ve misunderstood this). This is unlike for example, in Russia (for example the tennis player Marat Safin and his sister Dinara Safina). The reason you may have heard a so called brother and sister not having the same family name is because when ADDRESSING someone in your age group in Sinhala, it is customary to call them the equivalent of “brother” or “sister”. I’ve already been brainstorming for a blog post on “addressing people in sinhala” and your question further convinces me that i should do it. But for now, Let me know if i answered your question even a little bit?

      • Julie December 2, 2013 at 23:05 #

        ;-) thanks a lot, Dilshan! You did answer not only a little bit!
        haha, but your idea about a blog on ‘addressing people’ might be actually useful!

  14. vish April 27, 2014 at 01:37 #

    Really well done Dilshan. BTW Amma in Telugu means mother. Akka in Telugu means elder sister..I see a lot of similarities..

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 16, 2014 at 15:49 #

      Oh wow, I didn’t know that! That’s interesting. Thanks for telling me that.

  15. abhay October 8, 2014 at 12:49 #

    Hello brother Dilshan Jayasinha, i need your help!
    i have some conversation in sinhala language, will you please translate in english?
    waiting for your reply

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 21, 2014 at 09:01 #

      Not sure my friend, it would depend on the quantity of work. Send me an email and we can talk about it but these days I’m very selective about how I spend my time since there is so much going on. Hope you understand.

  16. Clarissa December 21, 2014 at 04:19 #

    So I saw you mention in the most about akka sometimes being akki… but can you explain the difference between akka… akki… akkiyo… and if someone calls me sudu akki…. what’s the difference in all of those things? Also, difference in malli…malla…malliya?

    Thanks for the awesome blog! I know I say it every time, but this is so incredibly helpful! It makes learning Sinhala so fun and gives me hope that one day I will actually be able to communicate a tiny bit in Sinhala. So thank you thank you thank you!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 21, 2014 at 09:03 #

      Hi Clarissa,

      akka is the proper word for “older sister”, and “akki” and “akkiyo” are all pet/familiar names used when addressing such a person. I guess the closest equivalent in English would be “Sis”, like when you’d address your sister by saying “Hey sis”. The same goes for “malli” which is the proper word for younger brother and others are just cute ways of addressing him.

      Does that clear it for you?

      Thanks for the nice words about the blog. Very happy.

      • Clarissa December 28, 2014 at 21:32 #

        Thanks! As always very helpful!

  17. Clarissa December 21, 2014 at 04:21 #

    that should say post not most….

  18. Florence January 4, 2015 at 19:38 #

    Merci pour ce site qui nous permet d’apprendre à parler Sri Lankais. On adore. Nous espérons partir cette année quelques temps au Sri Lanka et on est content de découvrir la langue.
    See you soon
    Flo and Henri (Saint Etienne France)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha January 13, 2015 at 17:08 #

      Salut Flo et Henri, désolé pour le retard.

      Je suis heureux que vous aimez mon site. Je suis sûr que on parlera à nouveau avant votre voyage au Sri Lanka.

      Merci encore!

      • Lakshman January 23, 2017 at 09:42 #


  19. Michelle September 10, 2015 at 14:57 #

    Hey Dilshan aiya,

    I hope you’re well – long time no speak!

    I’m just doing some catch up on your old topics, and have a couple more family related questions!

    So, is there any word for grandchildren, or would you do the same thing as with grandparents and say “grandsons and granddaughters” (“mu∙nu∙pu∙rayi mi∙ni∙bi∙ri∙yayi”?) How about siblings – is there a generic term that includes both brothers and sisters, or is this also the same situation?

    How about great grandfather/great grandmother/great grandson/great granddaughter?

    Lastly, what about marital status? (Married, separated, single/unmarried, widowed, in a relationship?) How would you ask a friend if he/she has a boyfriend/girlfriend?


  20. Dasun September 18, 2017 at 10:04 #

    Who is told as “Muththa” & “Mee Muththa”?

  21. Ricky February 19, 2018 at 08:40 #

    Hihi Dilshan,

    Thank you so much for all your hard work and heart work in putting all these super useful lessons together. Really looking forward to seeing more posts from you.

    I noticed there seems to be a typo error in the very last sample phrase above so thought to inform you to see if you might like to amend it.

    I think …. “This is my daughter-in-law = mḗ ma∙gé mi∙ni∙bi∙ri∙yȧ
    Should read ….. “This is my granddaughter = mḗ ma∙gé mi∙ni∙bi∙ri∙yȧ

    Am I correct? :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha February 19, 2018 at 08:50 #

      Well spotted Mr. Ricky “Hawkeyes”, you are absolutely correct. You’ll notice that I’ve already made the correction.

      What would you like me to write about? What are you struggling with these days in Sinhala (apart from the unnecessary confusion that arises due to the careless mistakes by your charismatic Sinhala tribe leader)?

  22. Piumi June 15, 2018 at 21:03 #

    Hey who is “ewessa massina”? Cousin brother?

  23. Hiru October 17, 2018 at 13:41 #

    Love this!

  24. Errol Fernando March 11, 2019 at 08:33 #

    Please let me know the term in sinhala for Mother’s Elder Sister’s Husband (Loku Amma’s Husband)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 15, 2019 at 20:36 #

      Hi Errol, that’s a tricky one and I honestly can’t give you fully-backed answer (I don’t even know if there might be a specific term). My instinct says “loku thaaththa” since he is Loku Amma’s husband. Does that make sense?

  25. Dharini March 14, 2019 at 04:06 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    This was enlightening. I never knew how to refer to my cousins, and now I do. Thanks.

    One question, I thought the the word for niece is laeliya. Can you confirm if that is correct? I see a similar word is used for daughter-in-law. Maybe this word isn’t used in spoken Sinhalese. Thank you for your help.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 15, 2019 at 19:50 #

      Really? Now, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard it being used for ‘niece”. Could you check this with the person you heard it from? I’d be interested to know. Thanks, Dharini.

  26. sanjeewani June 1, 2019 at 01:06 #

    How we say loku amma’s husband as well as punchi amma’s husband,
    Baappa’s wife as well as loku thaththa’s wife..???

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 1, 2019 at 11:44 #

      Hi Sanjeewani, please take a look at how the others have asked questions on this page and tell me if you think you could’ve perhaps asked your question a little better. Especially considering this is the first time you’re speaking to me. Big hugs.

  27. Lucie November 17, 2019 at 20:41 #

    Hi Dilshan!

    First of all let me thank you for everything you´re doing for us here. Only one thing I am missing here. How you can say “onlychild” in Sinhala? :-)

    Thank you for your reply.

    • Zaw Win Htet June 13, 2021 at 11:38 #

      Great work on this website and well enriched with the audios of the pronunciations. Just to click on the play ‘button’. It’s well organized with the series of the generation (Generation +1, 0 and -1, etc.) along with informative explanations.

      I’m from Myanmar and have Sri Lankan friends.

      [Sri Lanka and Myanmar are the Theravada Buddhist brotherhood nations. Both nations mutually benefit each other in Buddhism.]

      I could never pronounce the word ‘ayi-ya (brother)’ correctly but I can now. Thanks to the website creator (owner).

      Bhavatu Sabba Mingalan.

  28. Thinuka April 26, 2020 at 11:13 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    Firstly, I found your blog while looking on the internet when trying to improve my Sinhala and it has helped alot. Thank you for everything you’ve done.
    I just wanted to ask one question as I’ve seen a similar question already asked.
    This may just be my family, but my uncles (both my mother’s and my father’s brother) have always called me baena and my parents have always called my cousin (their niece) laeli or laeliya. I just thought this was a quirk of Sinhala because my grandparents also call my father baena (well mostly putha but baena too) and similar with my mother and father’s parents. Thank you

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