For people born in the USA, knowing how to correctly state their nationality can be confusing. Therefore, this page looks at how the US nationality can be expressed and explains why the topic is often debated in different parts of the world.
What’s My Nationality – USA or American?
If you are born in the USA, then it is generally accepted in the English-speaking world that you are an “American” or a “US citizen.” However, in Latin America, they do not agree that “American” only refers to the USA; instead, they believe it relates to the “Americas” as a whole.
For citizens who are born in the USA, the most common way to cite nationality in the English-speaking world would be “American.” However, the US passport states the nationality as “United States of America”, which is essentially short for “a citizen of the United States of America.”
Despite what it says in the passport, if a person born in the USA were to state “ I am American”, it would be almost universally understood as “I am a citizen of the United States of America.”
Furthermore, in the rest of the Americas, particularly South and Central America, there is no differentiation between North, South, and Central America. All citizens from any of these areas regard themselves as “Americans”. However, when using this term, they are not referring specifically to nationality but rather the continental land mass on which their country is located.
There is significant debate in the English and Spanish-speaking worlds over the topic of the word “American”. There is no answer that will please everyone because some feel it just relates to the USA, whilst others think it relates to North, South, and Central America.
To complicate matters further, there are countries, such as Mexico, whose full name in Spanish is “Estados Unidos de Mexico”, which means the “United States of Mexico.” This means that a Mexican citizen could say they are a “citizen of the United States”, and they could be referring to Mexico rather than the USA.
Is USA a Nationality?
A passport from the USA states the “United States of America” as the nationality. However, you would rarely hear anyone say, “ I am United States of American” or “my nationality is the USA.”
To use the term “USA” when mentioning nationality, it would be far more common to say, “I am a citizen of the USA” or “I am American.”
If you wanted to use the term “USA” to describe your nationality, you could use the following structures:
- I am from the USA.
- I was born in the USA.
- I am a US citizen.
- I am a citizen of the USA.
Is United States of America a Nationality?
The passport for US citizens says that their nationality is “United States of America.” However, you would hardly ever hear anyone saying that their nationality is the “United States of America” or “United States of American.”
Instead, if you wanted to say that you are a citizen of the USA, you could use these methods:
- I was born in the United States of America.
- I am a citizen of the United States of America.
- I am from the United States of America.
Is American a Nationality?
In the English-speaking world, the most common way to refer to a person born in the USA is to use the word “American.” This term is almost universally understood and accepted to mean a person born in the USA or a US citizen.
The occasion when the term “American” may be misunderstood is when it is used in Latin America, where people use the word “America” to refer to north, south, and central America rather than just the USA.
Here are some examples of the word “American” in a sentence:
- The American forces were the first units to arrive in Afghanistan.
- Gary married an American woman and moved to Oregon.
- There are many striking differences between British and American English.
- Many chemicals and preservatives used by American food companies are illegal in the EU.
In most parts of the world, the term “American” is accepted and understood as the nationality of a person or thing originating from the USA. However, in the rest of the Americas, people believe it relates to the whole continents of North and South America, not just the USA.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.