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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to EnglishClass101.com’s English in Three Minutes. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn English.
Hey everyone, I’m Alisha!
In this series, we’re going to learn some easy ways to ask and answer common questions in English. It’s really useful, and it only takes three minutes!
In this lesson, you’re going to learn how to ask someone about their family, asking whether they have any brothers or sisters.
Asking someone about their family is nearly always a good topic of conversation. After all, most people love to talk about their family, right? In some English textbooks you’ll see the question: “Do you have any siblings?” but actually we rarely use the word “siblings” in natural, casual spoken English.
So in order to ask this question naturally, all you say is:
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
Remember that in English, we hardly ever say “sisters or brothers”. It’s one of those phrases with a set word order, like “black and white” - “brothers or sisters”.
So the other person’s answer to this question will probably be one of the following.
“Yeah, I have two brothers/a brother and a sister/two sisters/etc.”
Sometimes they’ll give details about ages, and say something like:
“Yeah, I have two younger brothers.”
“Yeah, I have a younger brother and an older sister.”
And so on.
Note that some people say “elder” instead of “older”, but they both mean the same thing.
If the other person doesn’t give details about the ages of his/her brothers and sisters, though, you can ask a polite follow-up question to show you’re interested.
“Is s/he older or younger (than you)?”
“Are they older or younger (than you)?”
The “than you” at the end is optional, as it’s understood from the context.
But what happens if the other person doesn’t have any brothers or sisters? There’s a set phrase for this in English, and that’s...
“I’m an only child.”
Now it’s time for Alisha’s Advice!
When someone gives you information like this and there doesn’t seem to be anything else to ask, a good all-purpose reply is to say “Oh, really?” with a downward tone, while nodding or just looking interested. Be careful, though - it’s really important to sound interested when you say “Oh, really?” - otherwise you can sound very rude and sarcastic!
Do you know how to ask someone if they have a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend without being rude? In the next lesson you’ll learn how to ask a more personal question in natural, polite English. See you next time!