While searching for some keywords, I accidentally found keywords "German-born American poet" and it shows me the following page: enter image description here

Now, I have a confusion. It should be 'Germany-born' rather than 'German-born'. As an SEO guy, I know, we can take certain liberty while searching terms on the Internet as Mr. Google can understand what we exactly want to find... But then, it is written in a few articles as well.

Is 'German-born' is correct or not?


2 Answers 2


To say that someone is

German born
nationality born

means they are German and born in Germany, in your example

German born American

means Charles was born in Germany but has US citizenship, he may or may not have American parents. Or similarly

American born Chinese

means one is of Chinese ethnicity, but born in America, which by birth right makes them American.

You would not say

Germany born

but rather

born in Germany
born in country

  • If I say, 'Germany-born American' then it implies that one has American ethnicity but born in Germany. Is it okay to write?
    – Rucheer M
    Mar 13, 2018 at 7:03
  • 1
    Yes, usually additional context would be understood. "German-born American" could mean both parents are from America (as in a military family) but could also mean a German national who is living in America as an American citizen.
    – Peter
    Mar 13, 2018 at 7:10
  • 1
    I am asking about 'Germany-born American'. What does it imply? Your comment clears my views about 'German-born American'. Can we write 'Germany-born American' as per the relevant context?
    – Rucheer M
    Mar 13, 2018 at 7:13
  • 1
    @RucheerM You can write it and it would be understood, but it is not usually used. If you want to use the country name, you would say "American born in Germany".
    – Peter
    Mar 13, 2018 at 8:16

To indicate that a person was born in a particular country, we would use the adjectival form of the country name




South African-born



unless the country name ends in land

Icelandic-born possible but some would not use it

Greenlandish-born no

Swazilandian-born no

in which case we would most likely (but not always) use the country name itself (or a prepositional phrase, born in {country name} )

Newfoundland-born painter ...

Iceland-born actor...

Swaziland-born singer

New Zealand-born director ...

It would depend on whether we mean the person was born into a nationality or we mean to say where (in which country) the person was born.

  • 1
    Do you have any reference for that -land exception? I'm finding plenty of online references for Icelandic-born and I'm not convinced they are all wrong. Maybe it's a stylistic option?
    – J.R.
    Mar 13, 2018 at 15:01
  • You have to read what I write, @J.R. "we would most likely use the country name itself..."
    – TimR
    Mar 13, 2018 at 15:03
  • To me, the superscript "no" implies that it's incorrect.
    – J.R.
    Mar 13, 2018 at 15:04
  • Fair enough. I'll change it.
    – TimR
    Mar 13, 2018 at 15:06
  • If this is a rule than why we have 'England-born actors', and not 'English-born actors'? It would help me if you elaborate your answer.
    – Rucheer M
    Mar 14, 2018 at 5:00

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