Learn English – Is it correct to ask “what’s your father?” when you actually mean to ask about his job


What's your father?

Some said this question even exist in the visa-applying of USA, but I just couldn't understand it. Is it asking about somebody's father's job, his personality, or just what he is? If you take this question literally, the only answer can be "He's a pig, or blah, blah". So is it correct to ask this way?

Best Answer

Coming from a midwest American English dialect, I can honestly say if someone asked me that question, I'd respond "huh?". It makes very little sense to me, even if it is acceptable grammar.

Better phrases would be:

  • What does your father do (for a living / for work)?
  • What line of work is your father in?

If I had to take it literally, I suppose I would interpret to mean any one of the following things (in order of confidence):

  • Ethnicity / Race
  • What my father is like (as in, good-natured vs. horrible, etc.)
  • What my father does (work)