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.

  • 7
    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, 2013 at 2:54
  • 1
    Why don't you say "an Australian" instead of that? It's too verbose.
    – Daniel
    Jan 16, 2013 at 4:19
  • 2
    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! :) Jan 16, 2013 at 4:23
  • But you could say an Australian riesling.
    – TimR
    Jan 8 at 17:50

2 Answers 2


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.

== Addendum Jan 2024 ==

"Aussie" is a slang term for "Australian". You could say, "I met an Aussie named Sheila" or whatever. That's no more or less idiomatic than "I met an Australian named Sheila", just less formal. Same considerations apply to "an Aussie person" as to "an Australian person".

Is this likely to change? I doubt it. Language changes all the time and I don't claim to be able to predict the direction. But I see no reason why this particular issue can or should change.

If the word "Jew" is offensive, that's news to me. I will refer to someone as "a Jew" without a second thought. Of course any word can be in an insult if said sneeringly or in a negative context. Like, "Oh, you program in Java, well, sniff, if that's what you want to do, I suppose I shouldn't judge."

As to "sometimes regarded as offensive nowadays" ... maybe so. Today people get offended by all sorts of ridiculous things. To some extent I try to avoid doing or saying things that others say they find offensive just to be polite, but at some point it gets tedious.


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.

  • Your last paragraph is interesting. I don't recall ever hearing someone say "A Polish", etc. "A Pole" or "A Polish person", but never "a Polish". Not saying you're lying or anything, just that this is not a common usage in any place where I've ever lived. (Mostly Eastern US.)
    – Jay
    Jan 9 at 15:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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