"Maria is a foreigner."


June 21, 2017

This discussion is locked.


where is the name suffix?


Lol i thought they were being racist for a second by not giving an option for that


That was legit my first thought as well! Is there any reason why さん was omitted in this case, other than 'it's not mandatory'?


It is not necessary, just more polite to add さん, or くん, or any of the other name suffixes there are. This sentence is the rude and very informal way of saying it.


But マリアさんは外国人です should be accepted. I typed it and it was not accepted, with only the さん missing in the "correct" translation


I did this as well, and was disappointed to find that I got it wrong. Duolingo has taken care to almost always promote the formal/polite way of saying everything (teaching the extremely formal ではありません vs the extremely common じゃない). Seems odd they'd miss this here.


Yeah i faced the same issue


If they're going to be rude about it, why not go a step further and use 外人 instead of 外国人?


That's a fair call, but including or not including さん is considerably more complicated than "being/not being rude".

Contrary to what @StevenPaul5 said, マリアは外国人です is not informal, and not necessarily rude. Formality and politeness are not always one and the same in Japanese.

Here, です is used, so the speaker is being "formal" (basic civilized society level formal; there are other higher levels of formality in Japanese) towards the listener. But by choosing not to use さん with Maria, the speaker indicates that they are either close friends with her or they have been explicitly told by Maria that she doesn't need to be addressed with さん and are respecting Maria's foreign-ness.


Further to this, the most likely explanation (setting aside any foreign complications) is the 内・外 うち・そと concept, which is central to Japanese society and essential to understanding social nuances.

To elaborate a little more, of the face of it, we should assume that Maria is part of the speaker's in-group (内), and that the listener is not.


Even still, including -san should be an acceptable answer.


Wow thank you for this nuanced response . I never would have thought of it this way. Crazy how nuance works in Japanese, it fascinates me!


Love your comment about the formality and politeness distinction - I'd add the degree of familiarity (or friendliness) with the person as another kind of distinction making politeness, formality, and familiarity as a kind of tripartite consideration set for addressing individuals. I lived in Japan for a year, like probably many on this site, and learned not only how important these choices (often made unconsciously) are, but how confusing they can be for learners. For example, I saw colleagues in Japan often addressing each other with ちゃん (chan) or "kun"- they were being informal but not impolite since familiarity was high. I couldn't do it because I hadn't known them long enough, so I would have been rude. These kinds of issues are true for all languages I think - perhaps hardest to detect in our native tongues, since we're often just semi-conscious of our choices. This site does not a bad job with the san, kun, chan distinction https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-use-san-kun-chan-4058115


Adding a step further on making the distinction of polite and formal, what style is the Japanese Wikipedia written in?

It uses である instead of です or だ, ではない instead of じゃない or ではありません, and other plain forms for verbs and adjectives. Some sources say that is a formal style, but not a polite one.

JoshuaLore9's comment did make a distinction of polite and formal but called です formal, unlike other sources that called it polite. This has confused me, is there a way to distinguish polite and formal in either English and Japanese?


外人 is accepted as of 18-feb-2019.




I added it and it was marked wrong


I understand that -さん Is not necessary, but it marked it wrong, when it should also be perfectly acceptable.


That's correct, you should flag it for the course developers to fix.


So gaijin is rude because it eliminates the kanji for "country"? So instead of saying "person from a foreign country" you would be just saying "foreigner," which is less respectful.


I believe that you could translate it as "outsider" (外: "outside", 人: "person"), giving a connotation of "being outside of Japanese society".


No "san" fo foreigners, ey ?


Couldnt you add よ?


Yo is like adding !. Gaijin is the rude way to say it.


Before reporting, please double-check that you haven't made one of these common mistakes:

  • マリアよ外国人です (used よ after マリア instead of は)
  • マリアは外国です (omitted 人 from 外国人, making a sentence that translates to "Maria is a foreign country")
  • マリアは外国人 (missing the verb/copula です)


Maybe Duolingo should add (polite) , (non-formal) in brackets to the question so that we know how best to answer it.


if you omit the honorific suffix, but still use the です form, does it have a connotation of dehumanizing somebody?


No, not at all. The lack of honorific suggests that you and Maria are close friends or family. The use of です suggests that you aren't too familiar with the person you are speaking to, or that you are being polite/respectful to them.


So is the "jin" here stating that Maria is from a foreign country?


No, 人 (じん) still means "person" here, as it did in アメリカ人. 外国 is literally made up of the kanji for "outside" and "country", which put together mean "foreign country".


It's just like how you have the word amerika for america and amerikajin for american


Just to see if I've understood things right, would マリアが外国人です。 be more akin to "Maria is THE foreigner"? Or can が not be used at all in that sentence?


が can be used in this sentence, but it's not very common/natural in most situations I can think of. The difference between は and が is very difficult to explain, mostly because it comes down to the interplay between context and intention so it's hard to make consistent rules for. (Note, this is only for when you have to choose between the two, not when both are present in the sentence which is tricky too because which noun you assign to which particle depends on intended emphasis as well.)

The only scenario I could come up with where が would sound natural in is if you asked someone "you know that foreigner?" and they said "oh, you mean Ken?" to which you replied "no, Ken is short for Kentarou who is Japanese. Maria is the foreigner. (マリアが外国人です)"

So I would say マリア外国人です is more like "Maria is a foreigner", whereas マリア外国人です would be "Maria is a foreigner".


マリアは外国人です(Maria ha gaikokujin desu)


there should be a "san" behind the Name.


Regardless of all the above comments, in a previous question Duolingo marked me wrong for omitting さん、insisting that it would ONLY accept it with さん。 This is the absolute worst kind of sin for an alleged educator! To randomly reverse which is "correct". Without any context given, it's just a guess. Shame Duolingo, shame.!


Is there a difference between 囯 and 国? How to type the latter?


国 is "kuni" alone or "koku" when part of a word
the former 囯 isn't used in Japanese


人 is playing audio as 'hito' rathan than 'jin'.


That's because by duel lingo is reading 人 by itself, which would be 'hito' meaning 'person'. It's pronounced 'jin' in words like 日本人 'nihonjin'.


I understand that the さん is optional after a name. But in all the lessons, the さん is never added when it's a foreign name (John and Maria), compared to Japanese names.


I thought foreigner was "Gaijin" ??


While it has become more common to use interchangeably, that's a bit more of a traditionally derogatory term so it can come off as rude if you're not careful with how you use it.

外国人 Foreigner (Outside - Country - Person) is more specific 'not from this country'

外人 foreigner, outsider (Outside - person) omits 'country' to have a more 'not one of us' feel to it.

Younger people are starting to use it more frequently with less negative nuance to it though, and it is an acceptable answer for this question.


Is 外人 informal version of 外国人?


マリアは外国人ですよ Why adding "よ" is not acceptable?


I thought gaijin meant foreigner


外 - outside 国 - country 人 - person
"a person from an outside country"; a foreigner

外 - outside 人 - person
"an outsider"
This doesn't strictly mean a different country, but is generally a rude way to refer to someone not a part of the in-group, an outsider/foreigner. I would avoid using this.


外 looks like a guy(がい) with a backpack (hiking in a foreign land). Just a visual aid to remember the kanji. Hope it helps :)

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