A Guide to Nationalities in Spanish


Adjectives of nationality in Spanish are an important topic that you’ll learn as a beginner. For that reason, in this article, we’ll go over:

  • What are adjectives of nationality in Spanish
  • How to form adjectives of nationality
  • Different ways to ask someone their nationality

In addition to vocabulary and rules, you’ll also learn different ways to ask people about their nationality. Let’s start! 

What Are Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish?

Adjectives of nationality are words that indicate what country something or someone is from. Since they describe a permanent characteristic, these adjectives are accompanied by the verb ‘ser’. Like any other Spanish adjective, they need to match the gender and number of the noun.

graphic showing common adjectives of nationality in Spanish

Forming Adjectives of Nationality

Forming adjectives of nationality in Spanish is very similar to conjugating verbs. So, let’s put it in simple words. The country’s name is your base (stem), and you simply need to add some adjective endings to it. These endings include:

  • -ano / ana
  • -ense
  • -és / esa
  • -ino / ina
  • -iego / iega
  • -iano / iana
  • -co / ca

Even though the country’s name is your base, in some cases, you may need to delete some letters from it before adding the ending. just like conjugations

México = Mexicano / Mexicana.

Japón: Japonés  /Japonesa.

Canadá: Canadiense.

As you can see, nationalities in Spanish have a gender. Overall, adjectives that end with an o are masculine, so we’ll use those to say a man’s nationality. On the other hand, nationalities that end with an ‘a’ are feminine. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that you want to keep in mind.

For example, some masculine nationalities will not specify the gender with an ‘o’, but with a consonant (check the previous example with japonés). With some adjectives of nationality, you don’t need to mark the gender because they’re neutral. This means they can be applied to both masculine and feminine nouns regardless of their ending.

Finally, you’ll need to add an ‘s’ or ‘es’ to pluralize adjectives of nationality. If the nationality ends in a consonant or a vowel with an accent, you will need to add the syllable ‘es’ to make it plural. For example:

[Noun] + [‘ser’ conjugated] + [adjective of nationality]

Mis padres son alemanes.
My parents are German.

Esos niños son japoneses.
Those kids are Japanese. 

Ayer vino un grupo de franceses.
Yesterday a group of French people came.

Examples of Nationalities in Spanish

Here’s a list of some nationalities to help you expand your vocabulary and understand a little bit better how to identify masculine, feminine, and neutral adjectives of nationality.

Adjectives of nationality that end with ‘o’ or ‘a

Nationality in SpanishEnglish
Argentino
Argentina
Argentinian
Australiano
Australiana
Australian
Austriaco
Austriaca
Austrian
Americano
Americana
American
Británico
Británica
British
Chileno
Chilena
Chilean
Chino
China
Chinese
Colombiano
Colombiana
Colombian
Coreano
Coreana
Korean
Cubano
Cubana
Cuban
Italiano
Italiana
Italian
Mexicano
Mexicana
Mexican
Peruano
Peruana
Peruvian
Ruso
Rusa
Russian
Venezolano
Venezolana
Venezuelan

Masculine adjectives of nationality that end with a consonant:

Nationality in SpanishEnglish
Alemán
Alemana
German
Danés
Danesa
Danish
Escosés
Escocesa
Scottish
Español
Española
Spanish
Francés
Francesa
French
Inglés
Inglesa
English
Japonés
Japonesa
Japanese
Taiwanés
Taiwanesa
Taiwanese

Take Note: Notice that with adjectives of nationality that end with a consonant, you simply need to add an ‘a’ to make their feminine versions. 

Neutral adjectives of nationality 

Nationality in SpanishEnglish
BelgaBelgian
CanadienseCanadian
CostarricenseCosta Rican
EstadounidenseAmerican
IraquíIraqi
IsraelíIsraeli
Nicaragüense Nicaraguan

(Noun) + [‘ser’ conjugated] + [adjective of Nationality]

Mi banda favorita es coreana.
My favorite band is Korean.

Ryan Gosling es canadiense.
Ryan Gosling is Canadian.

¿Eres británico? Pensé que eras australiano.
Are you British? I thought you were Australian.

Just like in English, in Spanish, you can use nationalities to describe food or explain where something is from: 

[Noun] + [adjective of Nationality]

¿Te gusta la comida japonesa?
Do you like Japanese food?

Los waffles belgas son deliciosos.
Belgian waffles are delicious.

La frontera mexicana es una de las más largas.
The Mexican border is one of the longest.

Los chocolates suizos son deliciosos. 
Swiss chocolates are delicious. 

Take Note: In Spanish, people from the United States are estadounidenses. So, we don’t use americanos to refer to this nationality. 

Do you capitalize nationalities?

Unlike in English, we don’t capitalize nationalities in Spanish unless they are part of a proper noun or start a sentence. However, the names of countries are always capitalized.

Nací en España, pero mi familia es china.
I was born in Spain, but my family is Chinese.

Tengo un amigo ruso que habla cinco idiomas.
I have a Russian friend who speaks five languages.

El nombre oficial de mi país es Estados Unidos Mexicanos.
The official name of my country is the United Mexican States.

How to Ask Someone Their Nationality in Spanish

You’ll probably meet people from other countries along your journey of learning Spanish. Knowing how to ask someone their nationality can be very useful when meeting people from different parts of the world. 

Here are some phrases you can use to ask someone’s nationality:

  • ¿De dónde eres?where are you from?.
  • ¿De qué país eres?what country are you from?.
  • ¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?what is your nationality? This phrase is more formal and is used mostly in legal contexts.

Take Note: These questions can be adapted by changing the conjugation of ‘ser’ and the possessive adjectives to make them formal and appropriate. We do this when talking to older people or figures of authority.

SpanishEnglish
Tú: Tu acento me parece conocido, ¿de dónde eres?You: Your accent seems familiar to me. Where are you from?
Tu amigo: Soy de Argentina, pero mis papás son colombianos.Your friend: I am from Argentina, but my parents are Colombian.

SpanishEnglish
Tú: No sabía que hablabas francés, ¿de qué país eres?You: I didn’t know you spoke French, what country are you from?
Tu amigo: Soy de Canadá.Your friend: I’m from Canada.
SpanishEnglish
Oficial de aduanas: ¿Cuál es su nacionalidad, señorita?Customs agent: What is your nationality, miss?
Tú: Soy francesa.You: I am French.

Wrapping Up

Okay, I know that this seems like a lot of information, especially with all of the exceptions you need to keep in mind, but practice makes perfect. 

Trust me, learning to use adjectives of nationality in Spanish will make a huge difference in many areas. It will help you understand the news or any conversation involving a global landscape. Of course, it will help you interact with people from all around. ¡Buena suerte!

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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