The adjectives of nationality tell us the origin of something or someone, they also tell us the language that a person speaks. They are formed from the name of the countries and, like the other adjectives, they have to agree with the gender and number of the thing or person to which they refer.
La comida española (The Spanish food).
El idioma español (the Spanish language).
Los reyes españoles (The Spanish kings).
Las reinas española (The Spanish queens).
List of adjectives of nationality in Spanish
To begin with, you need to memorize the masculine form of nationality adjectives in Spanish, then you will have to learn how to transform them into their feminine or plural forms. Don’t worry, they are very basic and simple rules and we will see them below; here is a list of some of them.
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Spanish adjectives of nationality agreement
1. Most adjectives of nationality (adjetivos de nacionalidad), like many other masculine singular adjectives in Spanish, end in an -o. To form the plural, an -s is attached. The feminine singular is formed by changing the -o to an -a. To make the feminine plural form, add an -s to the feminine singular form:
Jorge es un ingeniero mexicano. (George is a Mexican engineer).
Marta es una doctora mexicana. (Martha is a Mexican doctor).
Jorge y Marta son mexicanos. (George and Martha are Mexican).
Marta y Luisa son mexicanas. (Martha and Luisa are Mexican).
Others adjectives of nationality similar: italiano, colombiano, mexicano, ruso, argentino, cubano, chino…
2. Adjectives of nationality that end in a consonant have four forms. The masculine singular is made into the plural by adding an -es. The masculine singular is changed into the feminine singular form by adding an -a, and an -s is added to the feminine singular form to make it plural:
Jorge es un ingeniero español. (George is a Spanish engineer).
Marta es una doctora española. (Martha is a Spanish doctor).
Jorge y Marta son españoles. (George and Martha are Spanish).
Marta y Luisa son españolas. (Martha and Luisa are Spanish).
Others adjectives of nationality similar: inglés, portugués, francés, alemán, japonés, libanés, irlandés…
Take into account that the orthographic accent in the masculine adjective is dropped in the feminine form= inglés/inglesa, alemán/alemana….
3. Adjectives of nationality ending in a, e, i or u (any vowel except for o) don’t change to make their feminine. For those ending in an unaccented vowel just add -s, for those ending in a vowel with an accent add -es.
Melissa es costarricense. -> Ellos son costarricenses.
Soy estadounidense. -> Mis hijas son estadounidenses.
Mohamed es iraquí. -> Los chicos son iraquíes.
Sayali es hindú. -> Ellas son hindúes.
Other adjectives of nationality similar: belga, croata, marroquí, canadiese, nicaragüense…
Languages of the world
Most nationalities can be used as languages too, although, as you know, Spanish is spoken in more than 20 countries. Anyway, languages are always expressed in the masculine.
Carolina es colombiana por eso habla español, su amiga es chilena y también habla español pero con un acento diferente.
Notice that unlike in English, nationalities and languages are not capitalized in Spanish. By the way, do you want to know in which countries Spanish is Spoken?
Here is a list of the 10 most spoken languages in the world:
Talking about origen
To say someone’s origin you can use…
- SER + nationality: Carlos es colombiano.
- SER + de+ city/country: Carlos es de Bogotá.
- you can also, use both together: Carlos es colombiano, de Bogotá.
You can learn more about countries and nationalities in Spanish by watching a video from profedeELE, just click on the link.
How much you know about adjectives of nationality in Spanish
Now practice what you have learned during the lesson with the exercise below and remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?
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