Lesson 12 - Nationality

Of course, if you are a traveler abroad, it is handy to be able to say what nationality you are. You've learned that the word hito means person, but there are three more ways to say it: jinnin, and kata, which is a very polite way to say it. When talking about nationality, you use jin. When saying a nationality, first you say the country, then you add jin onto it. (Remember, the countries have Japanese pronunciations)

The word for the United States in Japanese is AMERIKA (アメリカ), so if you wanted to say American, you would write Amerika jin. (A more complete list of countries will be listed in the Vocabulary Review). If you wanted to say "I am an American", you would say Amerika jin desu, or if you wanted to say you aren't American, you would say Amerika jin dewa arimasen. If you wanted to ask "Are you American?", you would say (Anata wa) Amerika jin desu ka.

A more formal way of asking nationality is Doko no kata desu ka. The word doko means "where". It basically means "What is your nationality?" or "Where are you from?". Remember, kata is the polite way to say "person".
One more way of asking is Nani jin desu kaNani jin means "what person". The literal translations is "What person are you?" but it is taken as "What nationality are you?" 

Let's try a conversation. Emily, who is Italian, is meeting Hans, who is German, for the first time.

Emily: Konnichi wa. Watashi wa EMURI desu.
Hans: Konnichi wa, EMURI san. Watashi no namae wa HANSU desu. Doko no kata desu ka.
Emily: ITARIA jin desu. Nani jin desu ka. OOSUTORARIA jin desu ka.
Hans: Iie, OOSUTORARIA jin dewa arimasen. DOITSU jin desu.
Emily: Aa, hajimemashite douzo yoroshiku. [bows]
Hans: Hajimemashite. [bows]

In the beginning, Emily says "Hello. I am Emily." Hans replies "Hello, Emily. My name is Hans. Where are you from?" Emily replies "I am Italian. What is your nationality? Are you Australian?" (ITARIA is the Japanese for Italy and OOSUTORARIA is Japanese for Australia) Hans replies "No, I am not Australian. I am Germn." (DOITSU is Japanese for Germany. It may not sound like "Germany" because it comes from the word "Deutsche".) Emily then says nice to meet you and Hans says it in reply.

Another thing you may want to make note of is that when you add go onto the end of a country, it means their language. Therefore, Furansugo (FURANSU means France) would be "French". This doesn't work for all countries though, like America. We speak English and therefore cannot say Amerikago. The word for "English" is Eigo (英語). This applies to other countries as well, like Mexico, England, and some South American countries.


Sayonara Goodbye
Sayounara Goodbye (formal)
Kata Person (polite)
何人 Nani jin  What nationality
何処 Doko Where
英語 Eigo English
Go 5 / Language
アメリカ Amerika America
オーストラリア Oosutoraria  Australia 
カナダ Kanada Canada 
中国 Chuugoku  China 
韓国 Kankoku  Korea 
イギリス Igirisu England 
ドイツ Doitsu  Germany 
フランス Furansu France 
オランダ Oranda Holland 
インド  Indo  India 
イタリア  Itaria  Italy 
ニュージーランド Nyuujiirando  New Zealand 
ロシア Roshia Russia 
メキシコ Mekishiko  Mexico 
スペイン Supein Spain