A: The British person I met was very friendly.

B: The British I met was very friendly.

C: The British persons I met were very friendly.

D: The British I met were very friendly.

Are B and D right? Can I use "the British" as a specific British person or specific plural British persons?

If so, is it the same with Chinese and Japanese?


While B and D might well be understood, I would call them wrong. "British" here is an adjective, and needs a noun to modify. When referring to British people in general "The British" can be short for "the British people" as in:

The British are often thought to be stiff and formal.

Even in that context, i think it poor practice, but many people write like this.

Much the same is true of other adjectives indicating a nationality or an ethnicity, such as "chinese" or "japanese" or "american".

  • D is no more wrong than saying "The great and the good." – Weather Vane Sep 23 at 16:54

'British' can be an adjective (meaning "of Britain, or "of the United Kingdom") or it can be a noun, specifically meaning people of Britain (or the United Kingdom).

In A and C the adjectival form is being used correctly. In D the noun form is being used correctly. However B is wrong because the noun is plural, and you have to use the plural form of the verb.

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