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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > free vs. single    

free vs. single

Czech Republic

free vs. single
Hello, dear friends.

Yesterday my daughter brought an English test where is this  sentence:
His father has free Brother.

I wrote to her teacher that this sentence is a nonsence, yet today she said to my daughter that I am wrong. She said it means the brother is not married. But I am pretty sure it �s wrong, because when someone �s not married he is single.
Unfortunately the teacher is my colleague so I �d like to have your opinion on this issue.

Thank you for your help, Michaela

3 May 2011      

United States

His father has a single brother (warning could also mean he has only one brother).

"His father has a free brother" can mean he has a single brother (very informal) or a brother that is available for whatever the main subject is:
Mary: I need someone to pretend he is my brother on Friday.
Tom: Mark has a free brother for Friday.
(no the best example, but it is a possibility)

3 May 2011     

Czech Republic

Thank you, Douglas. Of course I know it may mean he has only that one brother, but this is not the case.

3 May 2011     

United States

you cannot say His father has free Brother.
There is no article!  And single is better like Doug wrote.

3 May 2011     

United States

or he �s in jail and his brother isn �t. He (the father) has a free brother.

3 May 2011     


In London it could mean the guy has three brothers...

3 May 2011     


I would write "His father has a brother who is single" to avoid the interpretation that his father has only ONE brother.

3 May 2011     


"His father has a free brother" is rarely used as it just doesn �t sound right.
Generally, when there is a discussion about single men,  someone might say "my brother is free".  We would not really say a �free brother" but we would say "brother is free".
This is one of those rare cases where the adjective generally can not precede the noun but must follow the noun and "to be".
Single is much better for the test. 

4 May 2011