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Consider

They are a different ethnicity (ethnic?) and are counted as an Indo-European ethnic (ethnicity?).

It was just an example, in general when we use "ethnic" and when "ethnicity"? I checked "ethnic" in Longman, it could be both adjective and noun, and it confused me more about their difference:

Someone who comes from a group of people who are a different race, religion etc or who have a different background from most other people in that country

  • In that neighborhood of New York, we were all ethnics.
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    "ethnic" is an adjective, "ethnicity" is a noun. Could you check the definitions? So in your example use "ethnicity". BTW, I don't know if there is a rule, but I wouldn't use "Persian" when describing a group. I would use "Persian people", and possibly "Persians" though this looks a bit odd. – user3169 Feb 9 '17 at 6:30
  • @user3169 it has an noun meaning too, I modified my question – Ahmad Feb 9 '17 at 8:27
  • Let's say that your use and example sentence are correct, but in racially-charged environments such as the US, it would be kind of rude to use because by using the word ethnic, you are immediately drawing attention to the differences in appearance between you and the other person. – Teacher KSHuang Feb 9 '17 at 9:21
  • @Teacher I see, it was in response to a question about Persians origin and they are some facts – Ahmad Feb 9 '17 at 9:33
  • @Ahmad, I understand :). I'm not saying you were being rude; just to be careful how you use this word specifically because it has emotional connotations for some people. – Teacher KSHuang Feb 9 '17 at 9:35
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As it is used colloquially in AmE, ethnic (the noun formed from the adjective) refers to a person whose original native culture is not American.

He is an ethnic.

The colloquial meaning is "a person from a foreign place, having habits and customs different from those we have here (or different from those of the people native to this place)". That is the colloquial meaning of the word in the example sentence given in the question:

In that neighborhood of New York, we were all ethnics.

That means, "we had all come from foreign places and all of us had practices and customs which were different from those of native New Yorkers".

Ethnicity is academic/formal in register, a term used by sociologists and anthropologists and by the news media. It refers to the culture (religious practices, daily habits, social customs, etc) of an identifiable group or sub-group of people. It is frequently misused by the US news media as a synonym for race.

  • I have never heard "ethnic" used as a noun (western US, including LA). Maybe it is a New York thing? – user3169 Feb 9 '17 at 17:21
  • google.com/… What it means depends on who you're talking to, the man on the street or someone with an academic background. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 9 '17 at 18:32
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Ethnicity is both a countable and uncountable noun.

As a countable noun, it is sometimes used instead of using the common phrase "ethnic group".The use of the phrase "ethnic group". So you can say:

Persian people are a different ethnicity.

As an uncountable noun, it means the fact of belonging to a particular ethnic group. For example:

American people pay no importance on ethnicity.

As for the word ethnic, it's used as an adjective as well as a countable noun. For examples:

Ethnic as an adjective: an ethnic group, ethnic customs, etc.

Ethnic as a noun means a person belonging to an ethnic group. So you can say "Indo-European ethnics".

The sentence presented by the OP may be rephrased as follows:

Persian people are a different ethnicity and are counted as Indo-European ethnics.

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