Which of these is grammatically correct in response to "What is your nationality?"; “Singapore” or “Singaporean”?


According to the wikipedia page for Singapore, the proper demonym in this case is "Singaporean".

Admittedly, you see plenty of patterns emerge for demonyms but there is no guaranteed rule, which means you simply must check if you're unsure. Just know that the proper term for what you're looking for is "demonym."

  • Also curious about what you would fill in the nationaility blank in a form? Singaporean or Singapore? – dan Oct 12 '18 at 11:05
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    @dan Singaporean, for the same reason that you would likely write Japanese or American. I suppose if it was written "Nation of origin" you would then of course just use the country. – Neil Oct 12 '18 at 11:40
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    @dan For the N-400, Application for Naturalization form, the instructions for Block 11, "Country of Citizenship or Nationality" say to use the name of the country. I would think that on any form, you should put the nation's name rather than its demonym in blocks asking for "nationality" – Michael J. Oct 12 '18 at 14:54
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    @dan As an American, when I fill those out, I put in "USA." I think the normal is the country name – Azor Ahai Oct 12 '18 at 18:39

Singaporean is a nationality. Singapore is a country. It wouldn't be grammatically incorrect to answer "Singapore", but it wouldn't fit the question as well as "Singaporean".


The correct response in the example case would be both technically, "Singaporean" and "Singapore" are both correct but preferably and more understandably, "Singaporean" would be the most common one for use.

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    Why would Singapore be correct? That's a country, a noun, not an adjective. Singapore would be correct as an answer to "Where are you from?* but not "what is your nationality?*. – terdon Oct 12 '18 at 10:52
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singaporeans. "Singaporeans or Singapore people are citizens of the city-state of Singapore" so technically a "singapore" is still correct – Veraen Oct 12 '18 at 18:22

It's both.

Both "Singapore" and "Singaporean" are incomplete sentences, that is, they lack a verb. (Incomplete sentences are widely used in English; using them is not an error.) To make them complete, we would add a subject and a verb to know for sure what's coming on there:

I am from Singapore.

I am Singaporean.

Both are perfectly fine responses, and in this case, you are just making them incomplete by throwing away unnecessary information.

  • "I am from Singapore" is better IMO. "Singaporean" is kind of hard to say and maybe even hard to understand if you are in a loud environment like a bar. Whereas "I am from Singapore" is both easy to say and hear. – shadowtalker Oct 12 '18 at 11:52
  • @shadowtalker: But it sounds less natural to use the country rather than the demonym. – Oddthinking Oct 12 '18 at 13:30
  • @Oddthinking it's perfectly natural in colloquial AmE – shadowtalker Oct 12 '18 at 13:48
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    "What nationality are you?" "America" sounds just as natural to you as "American"? Okay. Surprises me. – Oddthinking Oct 12 '18 at 15:17
  • @Oddthinking "What is your nationality?" "United States." It seems natural enough to me, and more precise than "American" (which technically spans two whole continents). – David K Oct 12 '18 at 18:09

A single word can't be grammatically incorrect.

The correct answer to the question though, would be any of the following:

My nationality is Singaporean.

I am from Singapore.

I am Singaporean.

  • "I have the __ nationality" is not something a native speaker in North America would say. I doubt it's idiomatic in other areas either. – shadowtalker Oct 12 '18 at 11:50

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