Nationalities, Countries and Languages in Spanish

nationalities-in-spanish

This post includes: 

¡Hola! Me llamo Laura y soy de España, ¿y tú cómo te llamas?, ¿de dónde eres?, ¿dónde vives?

After knowing your name there is a question that every Hispanic will ask you and no, it’s not your last name, it’s your nationality. Probably, they will also want to know where you live. If you don’t know how to give this information nor the names of countries, nationalities, or continents in Spanish, this blogpost is for you!

Let’s start by watching our fun video where our students introduce themselves!

Play Video about nationalities-video

Countries, Nationalities, and Flags in Spanish

Check the names of the countries and nationalities divided by the continents. Plus you can listen to how to pronounce them. Throughout the post you’ll see more country names, so don’t worry if you don’t see yours right away!

The Continents in Spanish

continents

Although we know that this division varies, we show you the names we normally use in Spanish:

Spanish English

África

Africa 

América del Norte

North America

América Central

Central America

América del Sur
South America
Europa
Europe
Asia
Asia
Oceanía
Oceania

As you noticed, the names of continents and countries are always capitalized

  • Francia está en Europa.
    France is in Europe.
  • Mi país favorito es Chile.
    My favorite country is Chile.
  • No he viajado a ningún país de África todavía.
    I have not traveled to any African country yet.
PRACTICE!

We challenge you to take this geographic quiz, but in Spanish. Do you dare?

 

Countries Where Spanish Is Spoken and in Which It Is an Official Language

español

Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world and the second most spoken by native speakers. Almost 493 million people speak this language in the world. That’s incredible, isn’t it? But do you know in how many countries it is the official language? In 21!  Below is a map with the names of the countries where Spanish is the official language.

In the following infographic you can see the nationalities of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries along with their flags.

Nationality in Spanish

Being able to say where you are from is a basic need in any language, but how do you do it in Spanish?

In general, the nationalities follow the scheme below:

1. When the masculine nationality ends in -o the feminine is formed by changing the -o for an -a.

♂ MASCULINO (-o) ♀ FEMENINO (-a)

polaco

polaca

italiano

italiana

egipcio

egipcia

2. When the masculine nationality ends in a consonant (-n, -s, -l), the feminine is formed by adding +a.

♂ MASCULINO (-n/-s/-l) ♀ FEMENINO (+a)

alemán

alemana

irlandés

irlandesa

español

española

In the infographic you can also see that there are other cases where the male and female forms are the same. There is no change between genders.

1. When the nationality ends in -ense:

♂ MASCULINO ♀ FEMENINO

estadounidense

canadiense

costarricense

2. When the nationality ends in -a:

♂ MASCULINO ♀ FEMENINO

belga

chipriota

croata

3. When the nationality ends in :

♂ MASCULINO ♀ FEMENINO

iraní

iraquí

israelí

paquistaní

marroquí

💡Remember!

 

Masculine -o (italiano, chileno, chino, polaco,…)

Feminine -a (italiana, chilena, china, polaca,…)

 

Masculine -consonant (español, portugués, japonés, holandés,…)

Feminine +a (española, portuguesa, japonesa, holandesa,…)

 

Masculine and feminine -e, -í, -a (estadounidense, canadiense, marroquí, israelí, belga, croata,…)

Singular and Plural

Now that we have the vocabulary and know how to form the masculine and feminine, it’s time to move on to the singular and plural. Take a look at this table and learn the rules to create the plural of any nationality.

SINGULAR PLURAL

-o: australiano

-a: inglesa

-e: estadounidense

-s: australianos

     inglesas

     estadounidenses

: marroquí

-íes: marroquíes

-ís: marroquís

-consonante: alemán

-es: alemanes

The plural of nationalities ending in a vowel (polaco, suiza, chileno…) is formed by adding +s (polacos, suizas, chilenos…). For example:

  • Marta es argentina y sus amigos son argentinos.
    Marta is Argentinian and her friends are Argentinian.
  • Tu prima y tú sois italianas.
    You and your cousin are Italian.
  • Los estadounidenses son las personas que viven en los Estados Unidos de América.
    Americans are people who live in the United States of America.

The plural of nationalities ending in a consonant (alemán, español, irlandés,…)  is formed by adding +es (alemanes, españoles, irlandeses,…).

  • Martín es portugués, pero sus abuelos no son portugueses.
    Martin is Portuguese, but his grandparents are not Portuguese.
  • Los estudiantes españoles de mi universidad son de Madrid.
    The Spanish students at my university are from Madrid.
  • Los primos de Richard son irlandeses y viven en Dublín.
    Richard’s cousins are Irish and live in Dublin.

When nationalities end in -í (marroquí, iraquí,…), there are two options: +s or +es. Both options are correct.

  • En la clase de español hay dos estudiantes iranís y cuatro marroquís.
  • En la clase de español hay dos estudiantes iraníes y cuatro marroquíes.
    There are two Iranian and four Moroccan students in the Spanish class.

Nationalities: Adjectives or Nouns?

Nationalities can be used as adjectives and as nouns. Don’t worry, the rules you have learned work in both cases.

mexicanos
  • Las amigas mexicanas de Joaquín viven en Jalisco.
    (Adjective) Joaquin’s Mexican friends live in Jalisco.
  • Los mexicanos celebran el Día de Muertos el 1 y el 2 de noviembre.
    (Noun) Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 1 and 2.

In the first example, “mexicanas” is an adjective that accompanies and agrees with the noun “amigas”. 

In the second example, “mexicanos” is a noun. In this case “mexicanos” means “the people of Mexico”.

💡Attention!

Nationalities in Spanish are written with lower case (argentino, español, lituano…). 

Only country names are capitalized. (Argentina, España, Lituania…).

Martina es de Panamá, pero su familia es colombiana.
Martina is from Panama, but her family is Colombian.

Nos encanta la comida italiana. Viajamos mucho a Italia.
We love Italian food. We travel a lot to Italy.

PRACTICE!

In order to practice watch the video with Carmen ▶️

At this point you already know a lot of information, let’s put it into action! ↓

The Languages in Spanish

Languages

Once you have learned how to form the masculine and feminine forms of nationalities, you are probably thinking about how to form the names of languages. Is there a trick or rule?

Yes! Languages are formed with the nationality of that country in the masculine singular. Here are some examples:

💡Attention!

Although this is a very common rule, there are exceptions:

Colombia   ⇨  colombiano   español

Brasil            brasileño   portugués

Canadá       ⇨  canadiense   inglés y francés

Here’s how to find out what languages someone speaks:

¿Qué lenguas / idiomas + HABLAR?

  • ¿Qué lenguas habla Ricardo?   
  • Ricardo habla español, portugués y checo. 
  • ¿Qué idiomas hablas tú?   
  • Yo hablo inglés y español. 

💡Attention!

el idioma

la lengua 

We do not use the article to say which languages we speak, only the name of the language. For example: 

Julia habla el francés.❌                Yo aprendo el español.❌ 

Julia habla francés. ✅                 Yo aprendo español.

Julia speaks French.                     I learn Spanish.

PRACTICE!

Now complete the following text:

Ask and Tell the Nationality

asking questions

After knowing all the vocabulary and grammatical rules we are ready to learn how to ask and say the nationality.

¿De dónde + SER?  (From where + TO BE?)

  • ¿De dónde es María?
    Where is Maria from?

  • ¿De dónde sois vosotros
    Where are you from?

  • ¿De dónde son tus amigos?
    Where are your friends from?

To respond, we use:

SER + nacionalidad (TO BE + nationality)

  • María es brasileña.
    Maria is Brazilian.
  • Nosotros somos japoneses.
    We are Japanese.
  • Mis amigos son senegaleses.
    My friends are Senegalese.

SER de + país (TO BE + country)

  • María es de Brasil.
    María is from Brazil.
  • Nosotros somos de Japón.
    We are from Japan.
  • Mis amigos son de Senegal.
    My friends are from Senegal.
PRACTICE!

Test your skills! 

Articles before Countries

¿La Suiza or Suiza? ¿La India or India? Do we need to use articles to talk about countries? Is this correct? 

As a general rule, the names of countries do not have articles (la Francia, la Inglaterra, etc.), unless their name already includes one. The only country that requires an article in Spanish is El Salvador. The article must be capitalized because it is part of the name of the country and cannot be contracted (al, del).

💡 Notice!

La capital de El Salvador es San Salvador.

La capital del Salvador es San Salvador.❌

The capital of El Salvador is San Salvador.

Nosotros viajamos mucho a El Salvador.

Nosotros viajamos mucho al Salvador.❌

We travel a lot to El Salvador.

There are also other countries with which the article can be used, but it is not obligatory. In these cases, the article is written in lower case. Below is a list of some of the most common ones.

The article is obligatory with all countries when we add an adjective. Here are some examples:

Spain
  • Millones de turistas visitan España cada año.
    Millions of tourists visit Spain every year.
  • La mayoría de los extranjeros no conocen la auténtica España, solo la España turística.
    Most foreigners do not know the real Spain, only the tourist Spain.
Egypt
  • Me gusta mucho Egipto. Es muy interesante.
    I like Egypt very much. It is very interesting.
  • A mi amiga Claudia le fascina el antiguo Egipto.
    My friend Claudia is fascinated by ancient Egypt.

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