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Is this sentence grammatically correct?

Shall I get us a Chinese for dinner tonight?

I saw this in a book and it looks a bit strange to me. Should there be an article before the word Chinese?

Thank you!

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, Jim, tchrist Jan 1 '18 at 23:07

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    Welcome to ELU! I would ask you to cite where you saw this, but I'm mildly alarmed. – as4s4hetic Jan 1 '18 at 21:20
  • It certainly is grammatically correct- both with and without the article. They mean very different things. It's most likely you want the version without. – Jim Jan 1 '18 at 21:23
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    Name of book, please. Was the speaker American, British or Australian? Is the book a thriller, a novel or a comedy? – Mari-Lou A Jan 1 '18 at 21:25
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    In UK English 'a Chinese' simply means 'a Chinese takeaway meal', so it's absolutely fine to say 'Shall I get us a Chinese for dinner tonight'. (From the other comments, it seems that this is a peculiarly UK phrase.) – Kiloran_speaking Jan 1 '18 at 21:50
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    Answered at Americans can eat Chinese, but Chinese can't eat Americans? (Mynamite's answer). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 1 '18 at 22:22
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In UK English 'a Chinese' simply means 'a Chinese takeaway meal', so it's absolutely fine to say 'Shall I get us a Chinese for dinner tonight'. (From the comments, it seems that this is a peculiarly UK phrase.)

It's difficult to find authoritative support for such a colloquial term, but I can refer you to various places where the question 'Do you fancy a Chinese?' is asking whether you'd prefer to eat a Chinese meal or some other type of food (eg a couple of Trip Advisor restaurant reviews, and a Facebook page for a Chinese takeaway).

A post from a UK regional newspaper is perhaps slightly more plausible.

And a post from the UK's Daily Telegraph is solid proof:

this is the place where Posh and Becks have their Beckingham Palace mansion and this is the local where they have supper if they fancy a Chinese.

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The OED has the following definition for Chinese:

colloq. As a mass noun: Chinese food. As a count noun (chiefly Brit.): a meal served at a Chinese restaurant; a Chinese takeaway meal; (also) a restaurant serving Chinese food.

(Oxford's free Online Dictionary lists similar definitions.)

Apparently British English also uses a count noun for other types of foods, e.g. Italian and even McDonald's.

As an American, I've only heard the mass noun usage (e.g. "Let's get Chinese").

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It would depend entirely upon whether one intended upon digesting the Chinese (implication being “Chinese person”, or some other Chinese food dish, if not, the usage of (a) in the query would be erroneous. It would be more proper as stated: “Shall I get us Chinese for dinner tonight?” The inclusion of the word “a” would change “Chinese” from a noun to a descriptive word commonly known as an adjective, I believe.

  • Quite the opposite, I think. Adding an article makes it less like an adjective and more like a noun. – Nigel J Jan 1 '18 at 21:42
  • I think it depends entirely upon whether one is speaking/reading UK English or US English. In my experience, it's far more common in the UK to speak of 'getting a Chinese for dinner' than it is to say 'getting Chinese for dinner'. – Kiloran_speaking Jan 1 '18 at 21:56

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