I am a bit confused with a correct usage of Mom and Dad and articles. My daughter wrote a short essay starting from:

"Hello my name is ... and I am going to tell you about me. I have a Mum and Dad..."

At first she used "Mum" as she always does in school. I found that the word mum is more about sound not a person and it should be Mom instead. Secondly she use "a" to "Mum and Dad". Shouldn't be "a Mum and a Dad" or without an article at all?

  • 3
    +1 Very interesting question on article usage. I've found this WordReference thread. Dec 18, 2015 at 18:14
  • 2
    This is rather an intriguing question. I have an apple and orange could mean that I have an apple and an orange. Hmm . . .
    – M.A.R.
    Dec 18, 2015 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


Mom vs Mum is an American vs British question. Most would understand either way. Yes, "mum" also means silent, but when used as noun, it's well understood to mean the woman who gave birth.

I have a Mum and Dad

Is okay; Mum and Dad are a matched set like salt and pepper shakers. ;-)

Also correct but perhaps slightly more formal:

I have a Mum and a Dad

Omitting the article altogether would just be wrong. It can really only be omitted with things you measure, rather than count. E.g.

I have rice


I have a rice

Of course, once you have multiples of something you can count, then the article can be left out:

I have a cat

I have cats

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    I'm not sure this is complete. Consider the question "Is there anyone you can call?" Answer: "I have Mum and Dad". This same sentence would be correct in OP's case as well. In that case, it would be to declare that the first thing you need to know about this person is how strong of a relationship they have with her parents. I don't think that's the message the girl wanted to convey but if it was it would be an acceptable way to represent it. Thus, your line about "Omitting the article altogether would just be wrong" is inaccurate.
    – corsiKa
    Dec 18, 2015 at 23:20
  • @corsiKlauseHoHoHo But for the usage under discussion, it would be incorrect. Dec 19, 2015 at 2:03
  • @SevenSidedDie The OP's case is irrelevant to that clause. The clause is further justified using phrases completely unrelated to the discussion, but fails to mention that omitting the article is perfectly valid in the present form as well, even if that usage was not the intended result. Thus, the clause is inaccurate.
    – corsiKa
    Dec 19, 2015 at 2:17
  • @corsiKlauseHoHoHo It's not valid for the type of words being asked about. You'd have to be using "Mum and Dad" as proper nouns instead of as kind nouns (which you can't do in the type of sentence being asked about), which makes them different words (where different words are defined by having different meanings). So sure, in a completely unrelated case, with different words, it would be valid… Dec 19, 2015 at 2:22
  • The fact that they're capitalized indicates that they are proper nouns, though. It's not like there's a pool of mums and dads to pick from - that would be "a mum and dad".
    – corsiKa
    Dec 19, 2015 at 2:25

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