12

We can say "They are Americans" but "They are English people".

Can we say "They are Englishes"?

1

4 Answers 4

22

When you say They are Americans you are using American as a noun. The word American can be a noun or an adjective. In both cases the word refers to a person from North America or to a US citizen. The letter s is added to American when it is used in the plural (this is the rule for most nouns in English unless they have an irregular plural).

  • He/she is American / They are American. (adjective)
  • He/she is an American. They are Americans. (noun)

The word English, when talking about a person originating from England, can only be used as an adjective and in English adjectives are invariable (they do not change in the plural).

  • He/she is an English man. They are English people.
  • He/she is English. They are English.

English exists as a noun but not to designate someone from England. It can designate the language:

  • There is a large variety of Englishes in the world today.

So if you say:

They are Englishes.

people might possibly understand you are talking about varieties of the English language but you cannot use it to talk about people's nationality.


The noun english can also designate a spinning movement of the ball in bowling (wiktionary). In that case it is not capitalized.

9
  • 2
    This is not quite true, English can be used as a noun to describe people originating from England, but it is used as a plural in this sense, to describe them collectively. So you can't say "He is an English", but you can say "I love the English".
    – SteveES
    Apr 21, 2017 at 9:06
  • 17
    @SteveES That English is still an adjective even though it is functioning as the head of a 'noun phrase'. It's comparable to the rich, the blind, the good, the insane and so forth, all of which have an adjective as a fused modifier-head of a noun phrase. Apr 21, 2017 at 9:32
  • @AraucariaMan If that's so, why do dictionaries define it as a plural noun in this usage? (see en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english, for example)
    – SteveES
    Apr 21, 2017 at 9:35
  • 8
    @SteveES Because dictionaries are awful at parts of speech, but great at etymology and meaning. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language shows quite decisively that these words are still adjectives even when heading NPs (they discuss the French and the Dutch in their examples on page 417) :-) Apr 21, 2017 at 9:48
  • 6
    Suppose there's a family with surname "English". They, too, could be referred to as "the Englishes", couldn't they?
    – Kreiri
    Apr 21, 2017 at 14:28
2

Also note that several dictionaries define the word "Englisher" as an "Englishman" or "English person" - so you could say "They are Englishers".

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Englisher

4
  • 10
    While you could, I really wouldn't. As no-one uses it, people might think you have made up a word...
    – SteveES
    Apr 21, 2017 at 15:52
  • 1
    Or maybe they'll think you're an Amish person who misspelled Englischer.
    – David K
    Apr 21, 2017 at 19:10
  • I've heard tell that some Indians call Britons "Britishers", but I've never seen "Englisher" used. (I'm not doubting it has been used, but it's certainly not common in the west.)
    – Pharap
    Apr 22, 2017 at 5:19
  • Whilst not common, I have heard "Englisher" on quite a number of occasions - usually pejoratively applied to small ex-pat communities in non-English speaking countries being referred to as "Little Englishers". Far less often I have heard the term "Englanders" but have never heard the term "Britisher".
    – PaulF
    Apr 22, 2017 at 9:27
2

To add to Laure's answer:

   adjective  :  American   -          English
   noun (sing):  American   -  Englishman / Englishwoman 
   noun (pl)  :  Americans  -  Englishmen / Englishwomen 

Of course, adjectives don't have plural form (in English language).

0

The following construction seems correct, but sounds wrong.

For the people groups we were discussing before (the Britons and the Saxons), they are Englishes.

This works by forcing what is normally a group noun to be a single noun (by talking directly about the group) and applying another plural operation by talking about more groups of its kind.

I see so many questions that go by here where it turns out that the proposed verbage ends up meaning something, but not what was intended. Here is another case. It is rather difficult to construct something short with correct grammar but no meaning.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .