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Gentilicios: Adjectives of Nationality in Spanish

Let's talk about gentilicios (demonyms)! Gentilicios are words that we use as adjectives when we want to say the place where someone or something comes from. In other words, they are adjectives of nationality in Spanish! Some examples of demonyms are words like “Brazilian,” “African” or “Chinese.”


Unlike English, we don’t capitalize demonyms in Spanish:


Mejor dicho, esas que son una mezcla entre peruana y colombiano.

In other words, those that are a mix between a Peruvian girl and a Colombian guy.

Caption 35, La Sub30 - Familias - Part 1

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We form demonyms using suffixes, which most of the time need to be consistent with the gender and the number of the noun they are describing. Let’s take the suffix ano:

Roberto es mexicano | Roberto is Mexican (singular masculine)
Claudia es mexicana | Claudia is Mexican (singular feminine)
Roberto y Claudia son mexicanos | Roberto and Claudia are Mexicans (plural masculine)
Claudia y Daniela son mexicanas | Claudia and Daniela are Mexicans (plural feminine)


cuando realmente veo otros mexicanos, otros latinos,

when I see other Mexicans, other Latin people,

Caption 13, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 5

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Other suffixes that are very often used to form gentilicios are és (singular masculine) and esa(singular feminine) as well as co (singular masculine) and ca (singular feminine):

De padre austriaco y madre francesa, es casi políglota de nacimiento.

From an Austrian father and French mother, he's pretty much multilingual from birth.

Caption 12, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

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We also have the suffix eño (singular masculine) as in limeño (from Lima, the capital of Peru), and the suffix í as in the demonym iraní (from Iran). The latter is used for both masculine and feminine and only changes in its plural form (iraní becomes either iranís or iraníes, both forms are correct):


madrileñomadrileña, de Madrid, la capital de España.

or "madrileño," "madrileña," [from Madrid], from Madrid, the capital of Spain.

Caption 34, Carlos explica - Geografía y gentilicios

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Just like iraní, the demonym estadounidense (from the United States) is the same for the masculine and feminine forms. Some people use americano or americana when referring to someone from the US. However, if you are travelling across Latin America try to use estadounidense instead. Most people in Latin America treat the word América as a continent and not a country so using that demonym when referring to the US will certainly leave a nice impression across the Americas.


That's all for now. We would like to leave you with the following exercise: Choose 20 countries from the world and try to write the gentilicios for each one. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 4

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 1

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 2

Combining Parts of Speech - Part 3

Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles, and pronouns since these can be a source of confusion for Spanish learners. Take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 here.


Check out the following quote from one of our most recent videos. In this clip teacher Carolina is discussing common mistakes that her students make, and says:


El primer caso del que les quiero hablar hoy es...

The first case I want to talk to you about today is...

Caption 7, Lecciones con Carolina - Errores comunes

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The phrase del que les is used frequently in Spanish, and has no direct translation in English. If we break this phrase down, we find that it literally means "of the which to you:" the contraction del (preposition de + article el), plus the relative pronoun que (which), and the personal pronoun les (to you). But in English, we don't really say things like "of the which to you." Instead, English uses a very different structure that requires an additional word: "about."
In fact, a more literal translation of the example would be something like: "The first case about which I want to talk to you today is." In Spanish, by the way, there's a similar construction that uses the phrase acerca de, which literally means "about." So in fact, you can also say the following:
El primer caso acerca del que les quiero hablar hoy es...
The first case about which I want to talk to you today is...
However, these expressions are a bit over complicated, both in Spanish and in English. In Spanish, it's better and more straightforward to simply use the preposition de (of, from) combined with the appropriate articles and pronouns, which must agree with the nouns they refer to in both number and gender. For example:

El tipo del que les hablo nunca más apareció

The guy about whom I speak to you never again showed up

Caption 5, ChocQuibTown - Oro

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So, if you are talking about a noun that is both singular and masculine, like el caso (the case) or el tipo (the guy), you need to use del, that is de + el (the). Let's now see an example with a plural noun like artistas (artists), that needs de + los (or de + las if we were talking about female artists):


Pintó junto a grandes artistas de los que aprendió casi todo.

He painted alongside great artists from whom he learned almost everything.

Caption 15, Europa Abierta - Alejandro Hermann - El arte de pintar

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