How do you say grandma in Spanish? If you’re looking for an exact translation, that would be: “abuela”. However, you probably want more than that if your grandma is from a Spanish background, or because she only speaks Spanish and you want to connect better with her. That reminds me of my friend Trevon. His Grandma was from Puerto Rico, but she only spoke English. The sad thing was that he never talked to her, and when she died, he felt guilty because he never made any effort to get to know her. His excuse was the language, but I know you don’t want to be like that. You want to improve your communication with your Spanish-speaking family. This article is for you because we’ll go through 14 different ways to say grandma in Spanish. The goal is to help you build a bigger repertoire of words to call your grandma with different nicknames. After reading this post, you will also be able to understand when native speakers refer to their nannies.

#1 The exact translation for Grandma in Spanish: Abuela

If you type “grandmother” in Google Translate, you’ll get “Abuela”. This is the most common way to refer to the mother of one of your parents in Spanish. People use it in all countries, and every Spanish native speaker understands this word. These are a couple of examples using “abuela”:

  • Hello Grandma! long time no see: Hello grandma, long time no see!
  • My grandmother hasn’t come out of the house since the pandemic started.

Native speakers play with words all the time, which means that they may shorten words at any moment. Because of that you may probably hear native speaker saying:

#2 Open

“Abue” is just the short version of Abuela. If you look at the word “Abue”, then you probably noticed that “La” is missing at the end. People shorten words this way to send a message of feeling familiarity to the person they’re talking to. They even do it with names, but that’s a whole different story. Check out these examples:

  • My grandmother is the best, she gave me money for an ice cream.
  • My grandmother left her purse in my car.

#3 Awe

With this word native speakers play with the letter “b” in the word “abue”. I feel like it’s a lazy way to avoid saying that letter. Pronunciation is not as in the word “Awesome” in English, which I know is how you are reading it right now. Spanish speakers pronounce it as AA-OO-EH. It’s very common to hear children calling their nanas this way because they probably are not so skillful when they talk. However adults keep using this word during their life, in an effort to express affection to their grandmothers. For instance:

  • Hi Awe, did you bring candy today too?: Hi Grandma, did you bring candies today too?
  • My awe told me that she was going to take me for a walk when she finished school: My grandmother told me that she was going to take me on a trip when I finished school.

#4 Abu

Some native speakers may go a little further in shortening the word “Abuela”, to the point in which the word would miss “ela” Again they do this just to create a message of affection. To be honest, “Abu” isn’t a very common way to call your grandma in Colombia, but I’ve heard native speakers from other countries using it. Here are some examples:

  • Grandma, are you sure you feel good today ?: Grandma, are you sure you feel good today?
  • Grandma, I’m not hungry, really!: Grandma, I’m not hungry, seriously!

#5 Hot

The porcelain of a couple of grandparents holding a cat “Wela” is another shortened and wrong-pronounced version of “abuela”. It’s like if the person was skipping the “A” in “abuela” and saying only “buela”, but taking pressure off the “B”. I know many Spanish teachers would say that this isn’t correct Spanish, and they’re right, but that’s how people talk in real life and you need to be ready to understand them. Examples with “Wela”:

  • Wela… and why did you fall in love with grandpa?: Grandma… and why did you fall in love with grandpa?
  • Wela, do you want me to teach you how to use the tablet?: Grandma, do you want me to teach you to use the tablet?

#6 Granny

People use lots of diminutives in Spanish, I mean they do it a lot. Sometimes they do it because they want to express affection for what they’re talking about. This is the case of the word “Abuelita”. Some examples:

  • My grandmother makes the best beans in all of human history: My grandmother makes the best beans ever.
  • Did you see that my granny brought me a gift? How I love her!: Did you see that my grandma bought me a present? I love her so much!

#7 Lita

After learning the word Abuelita, you have to know that native speakers also shorten tis word. This time notice that we’re skipping “abue” and leaving “Lita” as a nickname to say grandma in Spanish. Children are the ones who make this mistake the most, but sometimes adults use it too in an effort to keep that “affection” for grandma. Some examples:

  • Lita, how old are you?: Grandma, how old are you?
  • I’m sure that when my son comes home, he’s going to start asking about Lita: Make sure that when my son comes home, he’s going to ask about his grandmother

#8 Agüelita

Perhaps Spanish teachers will hate me for teaching you this word, this is a mistake locals in Colombia make every day. People who say this, are especially people who don’t have much education. Also, it’s very common to hear little children with pronunciation problems saying it. Should you use it? No, please don’t. Just be aware that you may hear it from native speakers. It’s very normal to hear them saying that and even using the shortened versions undo word which will cover later for now here are tell me examples:

  • Yo vivo con mi agüelita en la finca:I live with my grandma in the farm
  • My mom has to take care of my agüelita because I’m still very small: I have to take care of my grandmother because I’m still too young

Anyway… So far, we’ve covered different ways in which native speakers play with the word “Abuela”. They shorten it, divided it, and even “slice” it into pieces. Let’s go now through some of the nicknames that people usually give their grandmothers:

#9 Mamá + the grandma’s name

Young woman driving and wearing an outfit from the 50's Yes, “mamá” means mother, but that’s also a nickname for grandmother. People who say this want to communicate that their grandmother is as respected and loved as their own mothers. This is actually how my mom refers to her grandmother when she talks about her. Here are some of the phrases my mother says when she remembered her grandma:

  • Rosa , my grandmother used to prepare an excellent papaya dessert.
  • Rosa’s mother got very angry because the children made a lot of noise: Rosa,
  • My grandma used to get very angry because the kids were very noisy.

#10 Meters

Another nickname to call your grandmother is “Mamita”, which is a diminutive for Mom. Just as #9, If you’re using this word, you’re referring to your grandma as if she was your mother. This one, however, gives the grandma a little more affection because it uses a diminutive. It communicates that you consider your grandma a loving and sweet person. I think only Colombians use this nickname, though I may be wrong. If you know about other countries using it, let me know in the comments. Some examples:

  • Hello son, have you already greeted the mommy?: Hi son, did you say hi to Grandma already?
  • Grandma isn’t hungry , she said she preferred a dessert instead of soup.

#11 Mita

This is the shortened version of “Mamita”. As you can notice, we skip “Ma”, and the only thing we say is “Mita” Here are some examples:

  • Mita, can I bring you the headphones so you can hear better?: Grandma. Do you want me to bring you the headphones so you can hear better?
  • ; ita, if he saw that my brother stole the ball that you gave me?: Grandma, did you see that my brother stole the ball you gave me?

#12 Nana

“Nana” is an old word native speakers use to say Grandma in Spanish with a touch of affection. Honestly, I don’t hear it very often. Perhaps it is the region in which I live because it isn’t very common in my area. For instance:

  • My nana taught me that one shouldn’t listen to strangers: My grandmother taught me that I shouldn’t listen to strangers
  • My nana took care of us a lot, more than my mom: My grandmother used to take care of us a lot, more than my mother.

Another way to use this word is to talk about a woman who’s hired to take care of kids, and clean a house.

#13 Yaya

This is another nickname to show affection to your grandmother. People use it in both Spain and Latin America. However, if you want me to be honest I’ve never heard it in Colombia and I’ve never used it with any of my grandmother’s. Some examples:

  • You have to clean the house because granny comes to visit and she doesn’t like mess: I have to clean the house because grandma is coming to visit and she doesn’t like the mess
  • Grandma is very sad because they told her that the bank wouldn’t lend her money anymore : Grandma is very sad because they told her that the bank wouldn’t lend her money anymore.

#14 Tita

The word “Tita” is another way of referring to your grandmother as you express affection for her. A common way of using it is using the article “La”, as if the grandma was an object. An object you love I guess. It’s kind of a lovely nickname to say Granny. For Examples:

  • La tita dijo que fueramos a almorzar a su casa mañana: Grandma told us to go to have lunch to her house tomorrow.
  • We are going to the wedding with my sister, my mother and my Grandma.


As you can see we have many different nicknames to call your grandmother and communicate affection for her. I know that many of these 14 ways to say grandma in Spanish don’t make much sense in English, but it makes total sense in Spanish. That’s how native speakers say grandma in Spanish, and it’s important that you know those words so you can understand when they talk. RELATED: How To Understand Conversation In Spanish: 5 Reliable Steps To Quickly Boost Your Listening Skills Dramatically To sum-up, the most common and acceptable ways to say grandma in Spanish are:

  • Grandmother
  • It’s open
  • Mamita (in Colombia)

Depending on each country you may hear other words being popular too. Other not so popular ways to say grandma in Spanish among natives that I feel need to be mentioned in this article are:

  • Nani
  • Tata
  • Nona
  • Gueli
  • Nena
  • Although

Here’s an infographic I made, so you can quickly access this vocabulary. Who knows… perhaps you’ll hear any of these words in your next trip to Colombia… Inphographic +14 Common ways to say grandma in Spanish Over to you: Do you know any other ways to say grandma in Spanish? If you do, please let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to say in which region people use each expression:

Grandchildren May Use Formal, Informal Titles

Like the German oma and the Italian nonna, the Spanish abuela is a well-known name for a grandmother. It is sometimes shortened to abuelita, which literally means «little grandmother» and is often used as a term of affection. Abuelita is sometimes shortened to lita or litta. More informal terms that may be used include tata and yaya. In the Spanish language, many words use the -o ending for males and the -a ending for females. Plurals usually take the -o ending. Thus a grandson is nieto, grandchildren are known as nietos, but a granddaughter is nieta. The Spanish language also has words for great-grandmother — bisabuela — and great-great grandmother — tátara abuela. Spanish is an official language in Spain, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico. Although Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Mexico, it is not recognized as an official language but instead is a national language, a status it shares with dozens of indigenous languages. The United States has the largest number of Spanish-speaking people after Mexico. Go to a page where you can hear the pronunciation of abuela.

Gender Roles in Spanish-Speaking Countries

In most Spanish-speaking countries, families tend to be large and members enjoy close, warm relationships with other family members. Family members tend to turn to other family members for assistance rather than to the government or social agencies. Although many women work outside the home, within the home traditional gender roles persist. Women take on most cooking and child care chores, while men take care of vehicles, lawns and outdoor maintenance. Grandmothers are greatly respected, but unless they are in bad health, they are often involved in the hard labor of family life.

Grandmothers and Child Care

In Spain, many grandmothers provide child care for their grandchildren. It’s estimated that half of grandparents care for grandchildren on a daily basis. There is little government support for child care, and it can be prohibitively expensive. In 2010 union leaders called on grandparents to go on strike. In 2012 one sociologist labeled the phenomenon «slave-grandmother syndrome» and said that it can result in health problems. It’s likely that similar situations exist in other Spanish-speaking countries, although grandmothers are unlikely to complain. Most abuelas, like most nonnas, omas and grandmothers everywhere, adore their grandchildren and enjoy being useful.

Abuelas in the Kitchen

Grandmothers are usually known for their expertise in the kitchen, and abuelas are no exception. Since abuelas are scattered all around the globe, their prized dishes and recipes vary greatly. Here are some traditional dishes that an abuela might cook.

  • Paella may be considered the national dish of Spain. It was originally cooked with rabbit but today most often features seafood and other meats and, of course, rice.
  • Tamales are a traditional Mexican food that consists of various fillings wrapped in a dough made of corn masa.
  • Red beans and rice make a tasty combination in this traditional Colombian dish.
  • A cubano is a traditional Cuban sandwich featuring roast pork.
  • Shrimp and rice are combined in this Puerto Rican stew.
  • Solterito corn and lima salad is a light and nutritious dish from Peru.
  • Bien me sabe is a traditional Venezuelan cake similar to tres leches .
  • Gallo pinto is a Costa Rican bean and rice dish.

The PBS Kids website has a game called Cooking With Abuela and also features recipes for grandparents to make with grandchildren. Family is at the heart of Spanish-speaking cultures. So it’s important to know and understand the basic relationship vocabulary about the family (la familia) in Spanish.

  • Grandmother = Abuela
  • Grandfather = Grandpa
  • Father = Padre
  • Mother = Madre
  • Brother = Brother
  • Sister = Sister
  • Husband = Husband or Husband
  • Wife = Wife or Woman
  • Son = Son
  • Daughter = Hija
  • Grandson = Nieto
  • Granddaughter = Nieta
  • Uncle = Uncle
  • Aunt = Aunt

If you have some familiarity with Spanish, you may have thought to yourself upon glancing through the list, that you thought the word for daughter is “mija” rather than “hija”. The term mija is a colloquial contraction of the Spanish words mi (“my”) and hija (“daughter”). The male counterpart to this is “mijo”. And while it is used from a parent to child, it is frequently used as a term of endearment from an older person to a child, much like “dear” or “honey” in English. Getting comfortable with a new language can take some time. But you don’t have to do this alone. Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion® methodology will teach you to speak the language, not just how to memorize the words. We prepare you to use your new language in your everyday life. So it’s not just about the features, but what you’re able to do because of them. It helps you get ready to handle situations with confidence and ease. With 437 million people around the world who speak Spanish, it’s no wonder that it’s a popular choice among new language learners. Many find themselves encountering the language in their daily endeavors and in popular music, movies, and TV shows. Your reason for learning Spanish aside, you can get off to a great start by first learning how to pronounce some very basic words and phrases. While many new learners spend their time trying to memorize lists of Spanish vocabulary words and phrases, they ultimately find they have little ability to participate in everyday conversations in Spanish. That’s why it’s so important for new Spanish language learners to focus on understanding and pronouncing basic words and phrases most commonly used. This practical approach to learning will help you become a confident and comfortable Spanish speaker. Building your pronunciation skills requires immediate feedback to make sure you are getting it right. Rosetta Stone helps you achieve correct pronunciation with our TruAccent™ speech-recognition engine. The patented technology compares your voice to native speakers in real-time, allowing you to get immediate feedback for the most accurate pronunciation. It’s also adjustable, which allows you to tweak your accent as needed. This is a powerful tool for helping you learn and speak the Spanish language. After you have become comfortable with basic Spanish words and short phrases, you will move on to the longer phrases used in everyday conversation. Rosetta Stone’s 10-minute language lessons are designed to lead you along this natural path to learning in lessons you can fit easily into your life. Surround yourself with Spanish whenever, wherever with the Rosetta Stone app . Download a unit and knock it out on the train or a flight. Select a 5-10 minute lesson and sneak it in while you wait in line or for your ride to show up. And explore dynamic features, like Seek and Speak, where you can point at an object in the real world and get a translation . The best part? You don’t have to choose between app or desktop. Both come with your subscription and sync, so you can switch between devices seamlessly. Learn Languages app in Google Play store Learn Languages app in iOS app store If you’re learning Spanish, you can use your knowledge of the language to show your grandmother how much you love her. For that reason, in this article, we compiled a list of different words that speakers use to say ‘grandma’ in Spanish. All of these words are perfect to use with your grandmother, but depending on the country, some of these nicknames may be more popular than others. So in order to help you choose a nice nickname for your grandma, these words come with their descriptions. By the end of this article, you’ll have more options to say ‘grandma’ in Spanish.

1. Abuela – Grandmother

Abuela is the most standard way to say ‘grandmother’ in Spanish. Depending on the context and the sentence, this word can be translated either as grandmother or granma. ‘Abuela’ can be used either to refer to your grandmother or to address her directly. Grandma ! _ Are you at home?
Grandma , are you home? Go see how your grandmother is doing
Hey, Fernanda, how is your grandmother ?
Hey, Fernanda, how is your grandmother ? Do you want me to help you with something, grandmother ?
Do you want me to help you with something, grandma ?

2. Abue – Grandma / Granny

As a short version of ‘abuela’, abue is one of the most popular nicknames that Spanish speakers use to say ‘grandmother’. This word is the direct translation of ‘grandma’ or ‘granny’. On top of being used as a nickname, people can also use ‘abue’ to refer to another person’s grandmother. But since it’s a very affectionate word, we only use it if we’re close to this person. The food is delicious , granny
Tomorrow , I’ll go to visit my grandma
My love, how has your grandmother been ?
Sweetie, how has your grandma been? Grandma, do you want me to take the dog for a walk?
Granny, do you want me to walk the dog? Take Note: Abue is not exclusively used for ‘grandmother’. In fact, it’s also a short and affectionate version of ‘abuelo’ and ‘abuelos’. So don’t be surprised if you hear it in either of these contexts.

3. Granny – Grandma

Abuelita is the diminutive form of ‘abuela’ and, as a result, it’s a very affectionate way to say ‘grandmother’ in Spanish. Just like other words, ‘abuelita’ can be used to address your grandma or to talk about her with others. Ismael vive con su abuelita
Ismael lives with his grandma Let me take these things to my grandmother
Let me take these things to my grandmother Good morning, granny, how did you sleep?
Good morning, grandma, how did you sleep? ¿Vas con tu abuelita? Espérame, le voy a mandar comida
Are you going to your grandma’s? Wait, I’m going to send her food Take Note: In Spanish, abuelita can also be used to refer or to talk with affection and respect to an old woman that is not your grandmother. There ‘s a grandma in the park that sells delicious cakes

4. Mami / Mama – Mommy / Mom

In Latin American countries, mami and mom are a popular nickname for grandmothers. This term is very affectionate because it gives your grandmother the title of ‘mom’. As a result, it implies that we have a deep love and respect for our grandmother just like we do for our moms. ¿Vamos a ir a ver a mi mami el domingo?
Are we going to go see my mommy on Saturday? Even though you could use ‘mami’ as a single word to call your grandmother, Latin American speakers use the following structure to distinguish between their moms and their grandmothers. Mami/Mamá + [your grandma’s name] Give your mommy Gracia a kiss
Hello, mom Laura, how have you been?
Hi, mom Laura, how have you been? My mommy Ana invited us to eat on Sunday
My mommy Ana invited us to lunch on Sunday Take Note: Using ‘mami’ as a way to say ‘grandma’ is very cute and affectionate. However, some moms may get jealous and not like it (after all you only have one mom). As a result, using this nickname will depend on the family’s preferences. Related Resource: Different Ways to Say Mom in Spanish

5. Abu – Granny / Grandma

Abu is the shortest version of the Spanish word ‘abuela’. Therefore, it’s also used as a nickname for ‘grandmother’. Just like other words from this list, using ‘abu’ depends on the individual’s personal preferences. ‘Abu’ could be translated either as ‘granny’ or ‘grandma’. Grandma , my mom sent you this
Grandma, my mom sent you this Where do I leave your bag, granny?
Where should I leave your bag, grandma? How is your grandpa ? I haven’t seen her in a long time
How is your granny ? I haven’t seen her in a while

6. Look – Look

Nana is a Spanish translation for ‘granny’. Even though ‘nana’ is also used as a way to say grandma in Spanish, it’s not as popular as other terms from this list. In fact, this word’s popularity may vary depending on the Spanish speaking country and on the person’s preference. My nana likes to knit
My nana likes to knit Son, your nana send you a kiss and a hug
Son, your nana send you a kiss and hug I can’t go today, I told my nana that I would go help her
Take Note: Nana is the Spanish word for ‘babysitter’. As a result, this word may not be as commonly used to address a grandmother.

7. Lita – Granny / Grandma

Lita is one of the short versions of ‘abuelita’. It actually comes from small children having issues pronouncing ‘abuelita’. However, this nickname is also quite popular among grown-ups too. Since this word can be considered a little bit cutesy, using it will depend on your preferences. Mom, are you going with the little girl ?
Mom, are you going to grandma’s ? La lita sent us this jar of jam
Granny sent us this jar of jam Lita, voy al supermercado, ¿necesita algo?
Granny, I’m going to the supermarket, do you need anything?

8. Tita – Grandma

In some Spanish speaking countries, tita is an affectionate word to call your grandmother. This meaning cannot be applied in Spain where ‘tita’ is used to say ‘aunt’. Tita, te trajimos estas flores
Grandma, we brought you these flowers Do you know where auntie ‘s glasses are ?
Do you know where grandma’s glasses are? Tell your grandma that a lady is looking for her
Son, your aunt said that you left your toys in her house
Son, your grandmother said that you left your toys in her house

9. Yaya – Nana / Grandma

In both Latin American countries and Spain, yaya is another Spanish word that can be used to refer to your grandmother. This affectionate nickname can be translated as ‘nana’ or ‘grandma’. Thanks for dinner, yaya
Thank you for dinner, nana Yaya, if you want to go to the doctor, I can take you
Grandma, if you want to go to the doctor, I can take you Hey, tomorrow is Grandma’s birthday , do you have her present ready?
Hey, you guys, tomorrow is grandma’s birthday, do you have her present ready?

Wrapping Up

In this article, we compiled some of the most common words that you can use to say ‘grandma’ in Spanish. Although most of these words are applicable to all Spanish speaking countries, there are a few of them that won’t have the same meaning. Now, you’re ready to start using these words with your grandma

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *