he needed the/x family

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Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
"We wanted him home because we thought he needed family," Bruce said. "He was not ready for the real world. ... We didn't know how to handle him."

Background: Bruce was talking about his son who had return home after a year Middle-East deployment. Suffering from post war symptoms, his son was asked by his father to move in with him.

Is family here too obvious that it doesn't need an article (his/the)? If it is spoken by his friend or somebody else other than his family members, it needs an article?
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's not about who is spoken to but how "family" is considered. Without the article family is considered as a concept (e.g. the qualities of a family, or those things that a family provides) rather than a particular family. If the speaker was thinking about a particular concrete family (even if this family is as yet unknown) he or she would have said "a family".
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