English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As mentioned in For people, can you say "a British" like you can say "an Australian"?, you can use "an Australian" to talk about an Australian person.

But is it also ok to use "an Australian person"? If not, is it merely too verbose, or does adding "person" make the language seem more cold and impersonal?

What about "an Aussie person"? Would that be even more unidiomatic, because you've got a word that's a shortening and is slang before a redundant word?

Also, is "an Australian person" being unidiomatic likely to change in the near future? How did "Jew" become pejorative? talks about how using a noun instead of an adjective is sometimes regarded as offensive nowadays.

I tried looking up "Australian person" at onelook.com, but didn't get any hits. That in itself doesn't indicate anything, as onelooking "British person" only got an Urban Dictionary result.

share|improve this question
An "Aussie" (slang noun) = an "Australian" (normal noun) = an "Australian person" (verbose adjective+noun phrase). "An Aussie person" is not idiomatic, AFAIK. "An Australian person" is too PC for my tastes: I'm "an American", not "an American person", just "a person". – user21497 Jan 16 '13 at 2:54
Why don't you say "an Australian" instead of that? It's too verbose. – Daniel Jan 16 '13 at 4:19
I don't see why anyone would feel the need to explicitly identify an American or an Australian as "a person". This question turns on an erroneous conflation of adjectival British and the noun Briton, just because other nations only have a single word for both (it was our language first, so we're allowed to have more words than everyone else! :) – FumbleFingers Jan 16 '13 at 4:23
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, it would be un-idiomatic to say "an Australian person". English speakers would almost always simply say "an Australian". The only reason to add "person" that I can think of would be if there was some possible ambiguity otherwise.

Like, "On my ranch I have two American horses, three Argentine, and one Australian. Yesterday an Australian on my ranch broke his leg." Do you mean an Australian horse or an Australian person?

Note that in English, for some nationalities we use the same word as an adjective as for the noun for a person from that country: Australian, Canadian, German, etc. In other cases we have distinct words: British (adj)/Briton (n), French (adj)/Frenchman (n), Arabian (adj)/Arab(n), etc.

share|improve this answer

There isn't a direct analogy with that other question.

With the British you have the collective The British, the adjective British and the singular noun Briton (and Brit, but in some contexts that might be seen as derogatory, so it needs to be used with care). It is also okay to say "A British person", "A British citizen" (if citizenship is particularly relevant) and so on.

With the Australians you have the collective The Australians, the adjective Australian and the singular noun Australian (and Aussie but that's slang). It is also okay to say "An Australian person", "An Australian citizen" and so on.

The noun and the adjective are the same, as is the case with some other nationalities, but not with some others.


It might be worth noting, that in the cases of those nationalities where the adjective is different to the noun, that some people do sometimes use it as a noun, ("A Dutch", "An Irish", "A Polish"), but it strikes some as at best dismissive and at worse derogatory.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.