American/British (person)

I’m only on level 3 (loving it so far), but I found these to be weird…

アメリカ人 is “American”, but イギリス人 expects “British Person” and marks you wrong for “British”. Isn’t that a bit of a double standard?

I’ve now come across フランス人 as “Frenchman” or “French Person” too, so the odd one out seems to be アメリカ人.

Soooo shouldn’t it be “American Person”?

I too had the same problem. :woman_shrugging:

1 Like

American can also be used as a noun (e.g. “An American works at our company”), whereas British can’t be used that way. If you want to, you could add ‘British’ as a user synonym to イギリス人, just make sure you know it’s referring to a person and not the general adjective.


The difference is that British isn’t used in the same way. Sure you can say “the British” to refer to a collective, but no one says “I’m a British” like they could say “I’m an American”.

Even as a collective, “the British” has a different nuance to “the Americans”.


Grok that. Thanks.


“Brit” sounds like the noun you’re looking for. “A British.” sounds pretty wrong to my ears.


Oh, so that was the reason. I understand. Thankyou…


Thanks everyone for the quick replies, that was actually very easy to understand. :slight_smile:

This mainly comes down to the etymology and history of the terms, and it’s just something you have to learn on a case by case basis. Other examples like “An American” include:

  • A Canadian
  • A German
  • An Italian
  • A Russian
  • A Swede (Swedish person)
  • A Japanese (technically correct but it is very strange and rarely used in my experience)
  • A Korean

Examples like “British person” include:

  • A Swiss person (Switzerland)
  • A Japanese person (more natural than above)
  • A Scottish person
  • A Swedish person (Swede is more colloquial, Swedish person is more understood)
  • A Spanish person

Yeah it makes a lot more sense. I didn’t think of it as “a/an (something)”. I’m on other sites like Duolingo and LingoDeer, that frequently translate it as “British”, so it made me do a double-take here.

Yeah, I’ve definitely heard this too. In formal writing, too, not just someone posting on Facebook and getting it wrong. “A Chinese” as well. And yeah, like you, just it sounds… off to me.

A Scot.


You an add your own synonyms. I added Briton, because that is (also) the correct grammatical equivalent of what they are asking.

I am an American, I am a Frenchman, I am a Briton.
I am American, I am French, I am British.

Note, user synonyms only count in reviews, not lessions. Learnt that the hard way when I reset back to 0. THIS came up, I type Briton, and it said I was wrong … went to add it in, and realised I already had the last time around.


Swede isn’t colloquial, it is the correct grammatical way of saying it in “A …” rather than “A … person”

Also, a Scot (Scotish Peron), a Spaniard (Spainish Person), a Briton (British Person).

Most nationalities have both forms, but one is often used more than the other.


That’s what I put for イギリス人 as well. It’s short and works.


Briton is more specific, meaning someone from Great Britain or even more specifically England and not the UK as a whole, see the Webster dictionary definition. It’s also a bit of a loaded word because it can refer to the ethnicity: Ancient Britons (Celtic Britons). Brit is used way more and is more general.

in my native language (italian) most of them are correct ways to refer to a person by his nationality, meaning that the adjective derived from the nation’s name can become a noun. perhaps op has a similar issue…? i too fell for the “british” vs “brit” trap the first few times i had to answer for igirisu-jin.

I can say that in my native English, “A British” would be odd to say lol. It’s easy enough to say “He’s British”, “He’s American”, “He’s French” and so on as adjectives… but I didn’t realize that it should be clear it means it’s a person (which I of course should have realized, thinking back now).

Correct it originally meant someone from Great Britain, the largest of the British Isles, not England specifically (as you noted, but touched below); it’s specifically referring to the land mass consisting of England, Scotland, and Wales. It technically doesn’t include North Ireland, and thus was not referring to a person from the UK, but it colloquially did, and thus became over decades of the union to have the same meaning, though subtly different grammatical usage, as British person (below).

Referring to Britons as the Celtic Britons (which were not just England) is only used in a historical context, otherwise it’s considered an archaic usage of the word.

British originally meant “from the British Isles”, which includes all of Ireland. So by that definition, someone who is Irish, is British … and now you’ve just been punched in the face.

British as since moved its definition away from the British Isles itself and just refers to The UK, The British Overseas Territories, and The Crown Dependencies. If you otherwise qualify for a British Passport (ignoring the legal and criminal stuff), you are British, or you are a British person, or you are a Briton.
By modern usage, and preferred grammar.

You’re right that Briton isn’t commonly used, usually due to a mix of it being a homophone, and it not really being taught. The colloquialism Brit, is by far the most common; however, it is a colloquialism. Briton it is the grammatically correct, noncolloquial word.

On a side note, rather than using an American dictionary for an English thing, it would be better to use the English Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries. Not only is American English the odd dialect in all the major dialects of English for grammar and spelling; I have found in the past dependencies between a word or phrase specifically English, and specifically American English. Thus when I know something is specifically one or the other, I’d refer to that specific recognised dictionaries, and falling back on an English dictionary if it is neither – considering I am English for no other reason.

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.