In England the husband of my aunt is my uncle, but in A L'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs (Proust, vol 2 of the recherche), St Loup refers to "le mari de ma tante". Is that normal? Also he refers to "une tante de ma tante". I haven't put pen to paper to work that one out, but how can she be the aunt of his aunt without being either the aunt of his mother or the aunt of his father?

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    For the "tante de ma tante", maybe the aunt is married to the brother of the parent? Old meanings of "tante" could be the cousins or even friends of the parents. In any of these cases, the aunt of the aunt isn't automatically the aunt of the parent. Sep 21 at 13:19
  • Alors là, pas une question pour moi. Je suis complètement largué sur ces histoires de familles ;-)
    – Frank
    Sep 21 at 13:45
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    Even in English, you might say "my aunt's husband" if you wanted to specify the exact relationship. Maybe this is the case here, as well. Sep 21 at 13:46
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    While it's not the case with Albertine, if an aunt by blood divorces or lost her husband then remarry, the new husband is more likely to be called le mari de ma tante while the previous husband might keep the oncle "title". In addition, if an uncle by marriage remarry, his new wife is unlikely to be called ma tante.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 22 at 10:20

1 Answer 1


Le mari de ma tante is mon oncle, it's exactly the same thing. Saying le mari de ma tante might imply (but not necessarily) that my uncle is not a relative by blood but by marriage, in that case I could also say that he is mon oncle par alliance. In the same way I can have une tante par alliance.

The rest of your question is not really about French, it's about family ties in general, just think that your aunt-in-law (so not a sister of either your mother or your father) has an aunt-in-law, etc.

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    +1, and I would even say that "le mari de mon/ma ..." does imply in an overwhelming majority of cases that it is someone who joined your family by marriage. Sep 22 at 9:05
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    @guillaume31 Indeed, in that case, M. Bontemps is precisely Albertine's uncle by marriage, not by blood.
    – jlliagre
    Sep 22 at 9:15

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