[General] I am Chinese. vs I am a Chinese.

TaiwanPofLee

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

emsr2d2

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

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

I am British. :tick:
I am a British. :cross:
I am French. :tick:
I am a French. :cross:
She is Dutch. :tick:
She is a Dutch. :cross:
 

Raymott

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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.
 

bubbha

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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).
 

GoesStation

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And don't use the outdated Chinaman.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

Roman55

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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.
 

GoesStation

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Matthew Wai

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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.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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The a makes it an adjective. If you said "I am a Chinese," I would ask: "A Chinese what?"
 

Matthew Wai

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1. A Chinese is sitting there.
2. Two Chinese are sitting there.

'A Chinese' is unnatural. How about 'Two Chinese'?
 

Tarheel

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Two Chinese are walking with each other. They are speaking Chinese, so I don't understand what they are saying.

Does that work for you, Matthew?
 

Matthew Wai

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I think 'talking' works better than 'walking' there.
 

Tarheel

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No, they are walking and talking. You can do both at the same time.
 

probus

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On a related note, we have recently had to abandon "oriental" here in Canada. I had always felt it was quite neutral, but Chinese-Canadians and immigrants from China decided it was pejorative, so it had to go. I still don't really understand why.
 

GoesStation

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On a related note, we have recently had to abandon "oriental" here in Canada. I had always felt it was quite neutral, but Chinese-Canadians and immigrants from China decided it was pejorative, so it had to go. I still don't really understand why.
I learned that West Asians may find that term offensive around twenty-five years ago here in the States. It's a slippery word anyway, in that it once meant something like "Turkey and points east" and gradually shifted eastward from there, so I guess it's not too great a loss.
 
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