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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    For an oral language testing project, some of my fellow teachers and I got in a mild debate as to whether a student's reply "It's British." is a reasonable reply to the question "What's his nationality?" Isolated from context it is completely grammatical, but in this context would you say it's acceptable?

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  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    What's the objection?

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #3

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    Many things are grammatical, but this is one that no one would use. You can make out a case for it, but you cannot argue that people would say it. If the test is how reasonable it is, it fails on these grounds. If the test is theoretical grammaticality then it passes.

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    #4

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    What's the objection?
    Some of my fellow teachers would have given full marks for "It's British." on a three point scale. However, that's loosely based on thinking of nationality as something akin to a "thing" that someone possess, like a passport, as opposed to viewing nationality only as a core part of one's identity. Another teacher disagreed and said they would give zero marks. This is in an EFL context by the way.

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    #5

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    The student's reply is reasonable - after all, s/he answered exactly the question that was asked. But it's not idiomatic. Teachers should respond that they can see why that answer seems logical, but that a native speaker would always answer ​He's British.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Skrej's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    I guess it depends on how literally you take the question.

    What is his nationality?
    Long answer: His nationality is British.
    Short answer: It's British.

    It's probably not the first response we'd expect to hear, but on the other hand I'd have a difficult time justifying it as completely unacceptable. I'd personally be debating the 2/3 line on your 3 point scale.
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  7. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    If we are looking for natural answers in conversation, then probably 'British' and 'he's British' would vie for first place in the Most commonly used category. 'His nationality is British' and 'It's British' would appear in the Almost never used by native speakers category .

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    #8

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Palmore View Post
    Some of my fellow teachers would have given full marks for "It's British." on a three point scale. However, that's loosely based on thinking of nationality as something akin to a "thing" that someone possess, like a passport, as opposed to viewing nationality only as a core part of one's identity. Another teacher disagreed and said they would give zero marks. This is in an EFL context by the way.
    Ah, there's academia, and then there's the real world. If somebody said, "What's Tarheel's nationality?" the literal answer would be: "It's American." However, I would tell that person that's entirely unnatural and the natural response would be: "He's American."

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    #9

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    I think it's harsh to give him zero points.

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    #10

    Re: What's his nationality? It's British. / He's British. Are both acceptable?

    I agree. Having been on the receiving end of this sort of marking incompetence, I feel that 0/3 for a grammatical answer in good English is absurd. I would award it 2, taking off 1 for unnaturalness.
    If there are, say, 30 questions worth 2 to 4 points each to make up 100, you can't give half-good answers 0 without artificially and maliciously failing the candidate.

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