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I would like to ask about the following words: 父親【ちちおや】 and 母親【ははおや】. They refer to father and mother, right? But why do they exist? When do we use them instead of お父【とう】さん and お母【かあ】さん?

I have a similar misunderstanding regarding the following two words: 両親【りょうしん】 and 父母【ふぼ】

Basically they both mean parents or 'father and mother', but what is the difference?

Thank you for your help in advance! Have a nice day!

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Let's not forget about 父上 and 母上! –  ssb Nov 27 '12 at 15:49
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There's 親父 and お袋, too :) –  rintaun Nov 27 '12 at 16:08
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"Why do they exist?">> Maybe because お父さん/お母さん are native Japanese words, while 父親/母親 are Sino loanwords? –  Chocolate Nov 27 '12 at 20:10
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@Chocolate, 父親 and 母親 are not Sino loanwords (unless maybe you pronounce them ふしん and ぼしん =) –  dainichi Nov 28 '12 at 3:00
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dad daddy pop pops father paterfamilias . i could probably think of more english words for father. it might be instructive to make a list correlating all them between japanese and english but it is a difference in familiarity and tone and politeness etc –  yadokari Nov 28 '12 at 4:09
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2 Answers

'why do they exist' is kind of a strange question; why does any synonym exist? If you're asking for a 'difference' between the two expressions, then 父母 is a biological term implicating a biological mother and father, and 両親 is a social term-- an adopted child's parents are 両親, not 父母. Naturally, a non-adopted child's parents are 両親 as well.

As for 母親/父親, these words ring a bit more 'proper' than お父さん/お母さん. In this case, it's a bit more about nuance-- the latter is a bit warmer/intimate than the former. You might directly call your father お父さん, but when talking to your boss about him, it would likely be preferable to call him 父親.

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Thank you for your answer. I meant with "why do they exist?" What their purpose is. It is ok to have synonyms, but as your answer contains it, it is important to know in which context it is good to use them. So this is why I asked why they exist what the aim of their use is. anyway thank you very much –  Dajka Laszlo Nov 27 '12 at 17:14
    
"What their purpose is.">> I think there's already an answer written in this post: "You might directly call your father お父さん but~~". We use お父さん/お母さん when we directly call our parents, like "Mom/Dad". (BTW you have "Mother/Father" too. Why do they exist?) We use 父親/母親(or[父]{ちち}/[母]{はは}) when we talk about our parents with someone outside our family. (It's often regarded childish to refer to your parents as お父さん/お母さん/パパ/ママ when you're talking to other people.) –  Chocolate Nov 27 '12 at 20:30
    
Thank you for your reaction. I just tried to explain what I meant with my line. I didn't mean to reask. –  Dajka Laszlo Nov 27 '12 at 21:32
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Ah I see... P.S... We don't directly call our parents 父親/母親/父/母 (←I mean, these are not used as "the vocative case"). And... [親父]{おやじ} and お[袋]{ふくろ} are normally used by males.(←These are used as "the vocative case" too.) (お)[父上]{ちちうえ}([様]{さま}) and (お)[母上]{ははうえ}([様]{さま}) sound polite and formal but quite archaic, so I doubt even our loyal family members are using them nowadays... Probably they're using お[父様]{とうさま}/お[母様]{かあさま}. –  Chocolate Nov 27 '12 at 22:11
    
Thank you very much:) –  Dajka Laszlo Nov 27 '12 at 22:28
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Just one thing that I noticed about [両親]{りょうしん} and [父母]{ふぼ}・・・

We say ご両親 to mean "your(=the hearer's) parents", but we don't use 父母 here instead.

ご両親はお元気ですか。
*ご父母はお元気ですか。

So I think 両親 can be used in an honorific expression([尊敬語]{そんけいご}), but 父母 can't.
On the other hand, you can use either 父母 or 両親 to say "my parents".

いいえ。両親は去年他界しました。
はい。父母ともに元気です。

So I think both 父母 and 両親 can be used in a humble expression([謙譲語]{けんじょうご}).
(Why...? I don't know... Anyone?)

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There are other situations where one is used over the other, like 祖父母, 父母会, 義父母, etc. I think this lends some credence to the idea of 両親 as a little more honorific and 父母 as a direct reference to the idea of a father and mother. –  ssb Nov 27 '12 at 23:37
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