Vítor
A Chinese or a Chinese person? How do you, native English speaker, would say this? There are lot of Chinese in my university. There are lot of Chinese people in my university. I met a Chinese yesterday in the train and we spoke some Portuguese. I met a Chinese person yesterday in the train and we spoke some Portuguese. Are these sentence correct FOR YOU? The same rule would apply to all nationalities for you? Thanks a lot =)
Jul 9, 2015 11:36 AM
Answers · 34
There are A lot of Chinese people AT my university. I met a Chinese person yesterday ON the train and we spoke some Portuguese. We don't say 'a Chinese' when we are talking about people. However there are many nationalities where we can use the nationality to describe the people. For example: Italian(s), Brazilian(s), German(s), Australian(s), Canadian(s), American(s), Russian(s) and there are many more nationalities where this is the correct way to refer to them. So you could say 'There are a lot of Italians at my university' or 'I met an Italian today'. However, for some nationalities, we don't follow this pattern. For example we do not say: - A French (We would say 'French person/people,' 'Frenchman/Frenchwoman' or 'Frenchmen/Frenchwomen' depending on who we are referring to.) - An English (same pattern as for French) - A Chinese (We would say 'Chinese person/people/man/woman/men/women' depending on who you want to refer to) - A Japanese (same as for Chinese) - A British (same as for Chinese) That list is not exhaustive, it just gives a few examples. Then we have people from other countries where we don't use the nationalities, but there are other terms that we can use. For example, we don't say 'a Spanish'. We can say 'A Spanish person etc as above but we can also say 'a Spaniard.' A similar one is for people from Poland. We don't say 'A Polish', but we can say 'a Pole.' Why it is like this, I do not know.
July 9, 2015
In English, we say 'Chinese person", not, 'a Chinese'. If someone said to me, "I met a Chinese", my immediate reaction would be to say, 'a Chinese what" However - and no doubt, somewhat confusingly - this does not apply to all nationalities. So, you can meet an Australian (like me!), or an Indian, or an American, or a Canadian, or a German, an Austrian, a Brazilian or an Italian. But you meet a French person, a Spaniard, a Japanese person, a English person, a Scot........Is there any rhyme or reason to this? Not as far as I can see. This is just how we describe people of different nationalities - maybe someone else has a rational explanation. If in doubt, you can always say "a person from..........(insert name of country). Is it this complicated/inconsistent in other languages? I have no idea. Good luck.
July 9, 2015
For me, the first two sentences and the fourth are acceptable although I'm more likely to use Chinese as a an adjective rather than a noun. For some reason using Chinese as a singular noun feels awkward, and I don't know why. There are other nationalities (American, Canadian, Israeli, German) where I wouldn't think twice about using them as nouns, but others (Chinese, Japanese, French) where it feels odd. Years ago people would have said Chinaman or Frenchman, which now would be considered sexist. It seems that for me the nationalities that end in -an or -i are acceptable as nouns.
July 9, 2015
In spoken English, you would usually hear: "There's a lot of Chinese people at my university." However, the proper way to say it would be: "There are a lot of Chinese people at my university." "I met a Chinese person yesterday ON the train and we spoke some Portuguese." It may come as a surprise to you that we say "on the train" instead of "in the train." After all, we're not riding on the roof of the train, we're riding inside of it. LOL. However, these are just one of the many inexplicable rules of English.
July 9, 2015
Either of the first two is OK. Only the second train one. It depends on the nationality and the adjective as to which is appropriate. If the adjective and the noun are the same, then you generally need to add person or people. In this case: I met a New Zealander yesterday in the train and we spoke some Chinese. I met a New Zealand person yesterday in the train and we spoke some Chinese. either is OK.
July 9, 2015
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Vítor
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin), English, German, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish