Nationality - people

platynaa

Senior Member
Poland, Polish
Hello :)

I'd like to ask if the following usage is correct or not.


"American people smile a lot."

"Spanish people like paella."

Or maybe should I say "The Americans smile a lot"/ "The Spanish like paella"?

Can I use "adjective + people" or only the other option is correct (the + adjective)?


Thank you :)
 
  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    You can use either. But don't use 'the' with plural nouns like 'Americans'. American people/Americans smile a lot (really do they:)? Then they are very nice people). The British/Spanish like or British/Spanish people like...
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    It's not grammatically incorrect to say "The Americans smile a lot," but it's not what we would say. "Americans smile a lot" is the normal way to put it when speaking about Americans generally.

    If you had a situation involving a group of people of mixed nationalities, you would use the article. For example:

    "In the audience, the New Zealanders applauded politely, the Australians cheered, and the Americans called for an encore."
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hello :)

    thanks for your response. As for "the" Americans, the article here is correct. I saw the example in my grammar book :)
    :thumbsdown::thumbsdown:
    In your sentence, drop the "the."

    You might consider a new grammar book.;)

    There are contexts where one would use "the Americans," but not here.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Does the grammar book actually use the word 'Americans' in that example? Generic 'the' is correct for nationalities that only have an adjective, no noun: the Spanish, the French, the English. But nationalities ending in -an are both adjectives and nouns, so the usage is different; you use the noun in the plural, not 'the' + adjective. 'The Spanish like paella' is correct; 'The Americans like pizza' is not.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    If you are asking whether you can say "American people smile a lot," then yes, you can. It's a bit redundant, that's all.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    And "American people"? is it correct?
    It's "correct," but not natural in the sentence you provide. We'd say "Americans smile a lot."

    If you enter "American people" in the search box at the top of the page, you'll be given links to a number of existing discussions on usage. :)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    There is, James, but I rarely hear it these days. It tends to summon up images of conquistadores and armadas (and a few pubs I've known!;)).

    And then of course there's "Britons", but that's not very common either (except for ancient ones, and songs about never never never being slaves:D).

    Ws
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I use the article with the nationality, especially when I'm speaking disparagingly about a whole nation, though that is frowned on of course.

    I take etb's point in post #7, but I don't see anything wrong with "The Americans like pizza". To me "Americans like pizza" means "Some Americans like pizza". I am probably in a minority on this.

    How about "The Greeks are an irrational lot." (The Greek people in general, not a specific group of Greeks - though that is also possible.)

    E.R.Dodds also used the definite article in the title of his excellent work The Greeks and the Irrational
    https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Greeks_and_the_Irrational.html?id=Lz7LNak21AQC
     
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