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The people sitting on the sofa are family

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers、

Which would be correct?
(a) The people sitting on the sofa are family.
(b) The people sitting on the sofa are a family.

HIrashin
 

Majestic

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Both are correct - it depends on what you wish to say.
A) Can mean the people on the sofa belong to the speaker's family. So speaker and sofa-sitters are one family.
B) Means the people sitting on the sofa comprise one family (independent of the speaker)
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Majestic. I didn't know that. The usage of "a" is really hard for a non-native speaker like me.

Hirashin
 

Lothor

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Both are correct - it depends on what you wish to say.
A) Can mean the people on the sofa belong to the speaker's family. So speaker and sofa-sitters are one family.
B) Means the people sitting on the sofa comprise one family (independent of the speaker)
Slightly disagree with you on A). Maybe I'm overlooking something, but I think that family without the article ALWAYS refers to one's own family.
e.g. 'Although they are not married, I see my brother's long-term girlfriend as family' (i.e., part of my family).
 

mdchachi

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I agree with Majestic. I might agree with Lothor except I don't understand his point exactly.

Family may be a special case. I couldn't think of any other examples like this.

For example "The people on the couch are friends" could have either meaning.
But you can't say "The people on the couch are a friends."
 

Lothor

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I agree with Majestic. I might agree with Lothor except I don't understand his point exactly.
Majestic said that family with no article CAN mean the speaker's family, I reckon that family with no article ALWAYS means the speaker's family.
 

hirashin

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Thanks, Lothor and mdchachi.
(a) The people sitting on the sofa are family.
(a') The people sitting on the sofa are my family.

Then (a) and (a') have the same meaning. Right?
 

Lothor

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Yes, they do.
 

mdchachi

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Majestic said that family with no article CAN mean the speaker's family, I reckon that family with no article ALWAYS means the speaker's family.
I can't think of any counterexamples so I guess I agree with you. Note for hirashin, family can take on other meanings besides relatives.
For example it could be a euphemism for the mafia. Or I know a group of lgbt friends who referred to themselves as family and would say something like that.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for your opinion and the helpful information, mdchachi.
A singer named Chris Hart, who used to be American and acquired Japanese nationality, calls his fans "family" or "fam". Is this usual in the U.S? (I hope I'm making sense.)

Hirashin
 

mdchachi

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Thank you for your opinion and the helpful information, mdchachi.
A singer named Chris Hart, who used to be American and acquired Japanese nationality, calls his fans "family" or "fam". Is this usual in the U.S? (I hope I'm making sense.)
I wouldn't say it's "usual" but it's not odd or unsurprising. Lady Gaga calls her fans her "little monsters." :troll:
 

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