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    • Join Date: Feb 2009
    • Posts: 101
    #1

    "a" necessary?

    Dear Teachers,

    Do you have a family?

    Do you have family?

    When you ask someone whether he/she has a family or not, which of the above is correct to use? Considering "family" could be:

    1. family that hi/she's born in, with a mother and father, *brothers and sisters

    2. family of his/her own, with a husband[wife] and kids of his/her own if any

    
Also,

    I have no family.

    Can this expression be used for both types of families mentioned here?

    Thank you.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,109
    #2

    Re: "a" necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by bouji View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    Do you have a family?

    Do you have family?
    Either of these is possible.

    When you ask someone whether he/she has a family or not, which of the above is correct to use? Considering "family" could be:

    1. family that hi/she's born in, with a mother and father, *brothers and sisters

    2. family of his/her own, with a husband[wife] and kids of his/her own if any
    Again, this is ambiguous.
    If you saw a little child wandering around, you might say:
    "Don't you have a family?"
    If you were visiting an old man, you might say:
    Do you have any family?
    They would mean different things, but not because of the way they're said, but because of the context. That's usually the only way to tell whether
    "family" means 1. or 2.
    Sometimes, it can mean any family at all. eg. at Christmas time, or other times when families tend to gather, you might ask an aquaintance, "Do you have any family?".
    And they might say "Yes, I'm spending Christmas with my sister and her family". In this sentence, "family" usually means the sister, her husband and children.


    
Also,

    I have no family.

    Can this expression be used for both types of families mentioned here?
    Yes. It means you have neither 1. nor 2.
    If you meant one or the other, you'd say:
    "My parents are deceased", "I'm not married", "I have no children", or something like that.

    It's common for overseas students here to say "I have no family in Australia".
    Thank you.
    R.


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