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vegetarian: a person who does not eat meat or fish

We can say

I am a doctor

I am a vegetarian

family [countable + singular or plural verb]: a group consisting of one or two parents and their children

All my family enjoy skiing.

In the above definition, "family" is a countable noun & can be followed by a singular or plural verb

But then "family" also has other meaning

family [countable + singular or plural verb, uncountable]: a group consisting of one or two parents, their children and close relations

In the above definition, "family" can be a countable noun (an be followed by a singular or plural verb) or an uncountable noun

Can we say:

My family is vegetarian.

or

My family are vegetarians.

  • Do the answers to this question: Family do or does? answer yours? – Laure Apr 17 '17 at 8:07
  • @Laure No, it won't be able to. This is 'cuz the verb DO does not takes adjectives. The OP's question is about whether to use the noun vegetarian or the adjective. – Araucaria Apr 17 '17 at 9:15
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Yes. You can use the adjective vegetarian:

  • I am vegetarian.
  • My family is vegetarian.

Or you can use the noun vegetarian:

  • I am a vegetarian.
  • My family are vegetarians.

In both cases the noun family is grammatically singular and countable.

However, in terms of meaning, in the second example we think of a family as a group of individuals. This is why it takes the plural verb are.

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    I would add that using plural verbs for collections is more common in UK English than American English. – Harris Apr 17 '17 at 13:58
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    @HarrisWeinstein Agreed. "My family are vegetarians" hurts my American ears. If I wanted to use the noun, I would probably say "Everyone in my family is a vegetarian" or otherwise rewrite to avoid a plural verb with a singular noun. – thunderblaster Apr 17 '17 at 14:02
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    I'll third that. "My family are..." is basically always wrong to American English speakers. The simplest transformation to make it work would be "My family members are..." – R.. Apr 17 '17 at 14:42
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    @R.. "My family are vegetarians" sounds perfectly reasonable to me, not at all wrong. I suspect it's regional. – barbecue Apr 17 '17 at 15:23

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