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I'm wondering about the plural of the term "South African" when used in context:

There are two South African people standing there. My wife and I are South African here in Argentina.

The first one sounds more correct as: South African The second one sounds more correct as: South Africans or is it South African 's

Just wondering about the correct spelling/wording.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, tchrist May 27 '17 at 13:13

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  • The "singular" version is an adjectival usage, which would be unlikely in your specific context. Consider a syntactically similar form with a more straightforward adjective: We are happy here in Argentina. That could either mean We [the people of Argentina] are happy OR something along the lines of We used to be somewhere else [where by implication we weren't happy], but now we've come to Argentina we are happy. Since the state of "being South African" can't normally change, it can't be used with that second sense (and the first interpretation would be nonsensical, obviously). – FumbleFingers May 27 '17 at 13:05
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    ...your uncertainty regarding the possibility of possessive South African's implies this question belongs on English Language Learners – FumbleFingers May 27 '17 at 13:08
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Well, in your first sentence, South African is an adjective, while it's a noun in your second one. To answer your question, the correct term would be South Africans. I don't know where you got the notion that an 's would be included.

  • thank you for the clarification, i never thought that they are different parts of speech. I was thinking of them both as simple plurals, and getting my brain in a knot! – user230910 May 28 '17 at 14:15

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