I have one wife, one child, one cat and one dog.
In the IELTS speaking test candidates often mention their families when talking about their homes. Sometimes they do this to justify only having a small home, or maybe they want to explain why they chose to live in a particular area.
But in any situation when you offer information about your family, your listener will make certain assumptions, in particular about numbers, and if the number is one then this is often best communicated without using the word ‘one’.
Most men, in most cultures, have only one spouse, so it’s not necessary to mention quantity. Your listener will assume that if you have a spouse, then you have only one spouse:
- I’m married.
- = you are married to one person only, and even though it may be possible that you are married to someone of the same sex, your listener will assume that your spouse is of the opposite sex to you.
In most cultures it’s not unusual to have more than one child. If you have more than one child you might begin by mentioning how many, but without mentioning their gender:
- I have two kids.
- I have ten children.
If your listener seems interested to know more, you can add:
- I have five kids – 2 girls and 3 boys.
If you only have one child, use indefinite article and mention gender:
- I have a son.
- I have a daughter.
If you have one of each, use:
- I have two children – a son and a daughter.
- I have two children – a boy and a girl.
If you have one of one and more than one of the other:
- I have a son and 2 daughters.
- I have 4 sons and a daughter.
The same rules apply for pets as for other members of the family, except that we don’t mention gender:
- I have a dog and 3 cats.
- I have a goldfish.
When describing your immediate family, avoid using ‘one’. Instead use ‘a’ to communicate ‘one of many’!