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  1. #1
    TaiwanPofLee is offline Member
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    I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    What are the differences between "I am Chinese." and "I am a Chinese."
    Thank you.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    "I am a Chinese" is grammatically incorrect. "I am Chinese" is correct.

    You can say "I am a Chinese boy/girl/man/woman/citizen".

    Some adjectives of nationality can be used as a noun too. Some can't.

    I am American.
    I am an American.
    I am Mexican.
    I am a Mexican.
    I am Argentinian.
    I am an Argentinian. (I've noticed recently that "He is an Argentine" is becoming more common.)
    He is Canadian.
    He is a Canadian.
    She is South African.
    She is a South African.

    (You'll notice that the ones that can be used both ways end with "-an".)

    I am British.
    I am a British.
    I am French.
    I am a French.
    She is Dutch.
    She is a Dutch.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    I always say 'I am Chinese', but I found the following definition, which shows that 'Chinese' can be used as a noun.

    '1 [countable] a person from China, or whose family was originally from China'—quoted from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionari...lish/chinese_2
    I am not a teacher.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    You've found it in a dictionary, Matthew, but that doesn't mean that many people say it. It sounds quite unnatural to me when used for people. The same applies to Japanese, Maltese, Burmese, Taiwanese - anything ending with -ese.

    On the other hand, it's normal to use these terms for animals. My avatar cat is a Tonkinese. My friend's dog is a Pekinese, etc.

  5. #5
    bubbha is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    I agree with Raymott. "I am a Chinese" sounds stilted and unnatural to me, and kind of old-fashioned.

    Note also that the English word "Chinese" doesn't make the distinction between ethnicity and nationality, so a person from Taiwan can be both Chinese (華人) and not Chinese (中國人) at the same time (depending on their political stance).
    NOT A TEACHER. Translator and editor, and I hold a TESOL certificate. Native speaker of American English (West Coast)

  6. #6
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    And don't use the outdated Chinaman. For no apparent reason, that term became pejorative. "Frenchman/woman", on the other hand, is fine.
    I am not a teacher.

  7. #7
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    A Chinese member used 'Chinese' as a noun in the post below.
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...=1#post1358783
    I am not a teacher.

  8. #8
    Roman55's Avatar
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    Interestingly, this dictionary, despite having the following definition of Chinese as a noun, 'A native or inhabitant of China, or a person of Chinese descent', uses it exclusively in the plural in all of its example sentences.
    I am not a teacher

  9. #9
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    A Chinese member used 'Chinese' as a noun in the post below.
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...=1#post1358783
    Just another English oddity! For some reason, We Chinese is perfectly natural, but He is a Chinese​ isn't.
    I am not a teacher.

  10. #10
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

    Perhaps the indefinite article 'a' is the reason. 'The Chinese', where the definite article is used, is used in many examples in the dictionary mentioned in post #8.
    I am not a teacher.

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