IELTS Speaking Part 1 | Do you have a large family or a small family?

Suggested Answer:

My immediate family is pretty much the average size, as I have a wife, two children and one brother, but my extended family1 is smaller than most2. My father is an only child, and my mother has one sister who never married, so I have no uncles, one aunt and no cousins, which is pretty rare.3


1 – Two high-level collocations that I’ve used here are immediate family and extended family. Immediate family includes those who are one step away from you on the family tree, i.e. parents, siblings, spouses and children. Extended family is everybody you are related to, including your immediate family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

There are only three people in my immediate family: me, my mum and my dad.
At Christmas, everyone in his immediate family goes to his house for dinner.
My extended family all live in Malaysia, so I don’t see them very often.
Lunar New Year is a time for the extended family to come together.

2 – This is an example of how native speakers use omission in a way I rarely encounter from non-native speakers. This sentence states that my extended family is smaller than most other extended families. However, after the first part of the sentence – My extended family is smaller – we know that we are comparing extended families, so we don’t need to repeat that phrase again – than most extended families. Repeating extended family isn’t wrong per se, but this example of omission is a great way to sound more like a native speaker.

Paris is a great city, although it’s dirtier than most other cities.
Paris is a great city, although it’s dirtier than most.

Her IELTS Speaking score was higher than most other people’s IELTS scores.
Her IELTS Speaking score was higher than most.

Note that in the first part of the sentence, we need to include the type of noun we are comparing, otherwise the listener is unsure what we are talking about.

Paris is dirtier than most. (X)

Most what? Most places in France? Most cities in the world? I can’t tell from this sentence alone.

Paris is France’s most beautiful city, although it’s dirtier than most.

The above example suggests that Paris is dirtier than most other cities in France, as the first clause was discussing French cities.

3 – A good way to add extra information about the object of a sentence is by taking two simple sentences, in which Sentence 2 gives adds detail about the object in Sentence 1. You can join these sentences together with a comma and replacing the subject in Sentence 2 with which.

Sounds complicated? These things are usually better explained with examples:

I like bibimbap. Bibimbap comes from Korea.
I like bibimbap, which comes from Korea.

There are lots of fun things to do in Bangkok. Bangkok is my favourite city.
There are lots of fun things to do in Bangkok, which is my favourite city.

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