What is the difference between "nationality", "ethnicity", and "background"?

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I get these four questions asked a lot so I wanna know what they actually mean...

what is your nationality,

what is your ethnicity,

what is your background,

and where are you from?,

What are these 4 questions really asking ?

The reason I ask is cause a lady/stranger got mad at me today cause she asked me "what is your nationality" and I said that my parents are originally from Italy. And then she said, WELL YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SAY YOU'RE ITALIAN, NOT YOUR PARENTS ARE FROM THERE. And then I said, but I was born in the US, my opinion, my nationality is American....




  1. nationality is country of origin (born in Russia, live in Australia, nationality is russian)

    ethnicity is your racial ancestry (born in Greece with italian family , Italian ethnicity)

    Background is pretty much everything about where you came from (Born China, lived in Japan, moved to Canada, live in New Zealand)

    Asking where are you from is just where you are now, i live in Australia and if i were asked id say I'm from australia

  2. Nationality = Country, in my case America

    Ethnicity = Race, for me Black

    Background = depends on the topic.

    That lady sounds iggy. Ignore her.

  3. Tell her you're human.

    That should get her gears grinding.

    We are all one people - the details are miniscule.

  4. Nationality can be a bit more complex in certain situations. If, your parents are Americans, and they are travelling overseas at the time of your birth, you will be American by decent, but also (in most cases) considered a national of the country where you were physically born.

    In a case like this, you would in fact choose your nationality, most likely that of your parents.

    Ethnicity has to do with your family heritage. This term can also be confusing if you are from a mixed background. Although both of my parents were born in the US, my ethnicity would broadly be referred to as European, specifically Scottish, Irish and German.

    The background question depends entirely on the context it is being asked.

    The where are you from? Question will also depend on who you are speaking to. An example: I was born in the US, and now live in Australia. When I am asked where I am from, I try to determine the level of familiarity that the person asking the question has with the US.

    As Philadelphia brand cream cheese is sold here and Cold Case is filmed in Philadelphia, I will tell them that I am from the same place where their cream cheese comes from and/or where Cold Case is filmed.

    Not sure if this helps at all, but it may help explain why people  have problems asking and answering these questions.

  5. You want to know what those questions mean? It means the person asking is a Racist.  

  6. the wording.

    you're not an American, thats what you are by papers. THeres no such thing as an ethnic American.

    You have a motherland, a land of your ancestors and forefathers. Thats your nationality. Not your birth place.

  7. Nationality- Country

    Ethnicity- Jewish, Swahili, What Part?

    Background- Criminal, Childhood.

    From- Home,  City, State, Country.

  8. Nationality: Where you resided from birth

    Ethnicity: Your racial roots

    Background: Your ancestral roots

  9. Your right, your "nationality" is American since you where born in the United States.  Your "background" is Italian since your relatives are from there. Your "ethnicity" is white i'm guessing since you said your "background"xD is Italian.  

    Crazy old ladies asking you what your nationality is....jeez

    And they don't even know what they are talking

    Speak your mind!;...

  10. yeah you would be right.

    you're second generation italian so you're

    Italian- American. you're ethnicity would be caucasian

    and you're background i think would mean like where

    or how you were raised. like middle class upper class etc.

  11. Nationality can be used for where you are born or what your backgrounds are. Ethnicity is used to determine someone's race for example, Caucasian, Black, Hispanic, Asian. Where are you from is obviously where you're born or where you're raised.

  12. culture

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