Italian, French, Norwegian, Dutch:
adjectives of nationality for European countries.

    In a previous lesson we looked at some Asian country names and their corresponding nationality adjectives (Malaysian, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi: adjectives of nationality for Asian countries). In this week's lesson we look at some nationality adjectives from European countries.

    European nationality adjectives are a little more complicated than Asian. However, in this lesson we will see that European nationality adjectives can also be grouped into patterns.

    Pattern One: '-an' nationalities

    Please look at the following list of country and nationality words. The red vowel (or, in some cases, 'y') in each word is to show which syllable is stressed:

    •   Austria
    •   Bulgaria
    •   Romania
    •   Bosnia
    •   Croatia
    •   Yugoslavia     
    •   Russia
    •   Belgium
    •   Germany

    •   Hungary
    •    Italy
    •   Norway
    •   Austrian
    •   Bulgarian
    •   Romanian
    •   Bosnian
    •   Croatian
    •   Yugoslavian     
    •   Russian
    •   Belgian
    •   German

    •   Hungarian
    •   Italian
    •   Norwegian


    • Most European countries whose names end with "-a" form their adjectives with
      "-an." This is also true of countries in other continents: Nigeria - Nigerian, Bolivia - Bolivian, Australia - Australian.
    • Be careful with the last three on the above list: Hungary - Hungarian, Italy - Italian, Norway - Norwegian. These three involve changes in spelling and pronunciation.


    We can use adjectives of nationality when we talk about a country's products, culture, history etc:

    • I've just bought some nice Austrian cheese from the supermarket.
    • Bulgarian yoghurt is famous all over the world.
    • Have you ever read any Russian novels?

    However, when we talk about people, we have a choice of using an adjective or a noun:

    1. Is Karl from Germany?
    2. No. I think he's Austrian (ADJECTIVE).

    1. Is Karl from Germany?
    2. No. I think he's an Austrian (NOUN).

    With '-an' nationality words, the adjective and noun have the same form (Austrian / an Austrian). With other nationality words, the adjectives and nouns often have different forms:

    1. You're not English, are you?
    2. No. I'm Polish (ADJECTIVE).

    1. He isn't an Englishman, is he?
    2. No. I think he's a Pole (NOUN).

    In the next two sections, I will list both the ADJECTIVES of nationality and the NOUNS of nationality.

    Pattern Two: '-ish' nationality adjectives

    •   Britain
    •   England
    •   Ireland
    •   Scotland    
    •   Denmark
    •   Finland
    •   Poland
    •   Turkey
    •   Sweden
    •   Spain

    •   British
    •   English
    •   Irish
    •   Scottish    
    •   Danish
    •   Finnish
    •   Polish
    •   Turkish
    •   Swedish
    •   Spanish

    •   a Briton (*See note below)
    •   an Englishman / Englishwoman    
    •   a Irishman / Irishwoman
    •   a Scotsman / Scotswoman
    •   a Dane
    •   a Finn
    •   a Pole
    •   a Turk
    •   a Swede
    •   a Spaniard

    • Many European nationality adjectives end with '-ish.' With '-ish' nationality adjectives, the nationality noun is usually different in form. We can't, for example, say He's a Danish; we have to say He's Danish or He's a Dane.
    • The word Briton is rare in conversation. It tends to be found mostly in newspaper reports e.g. "Three Britons were injured in the crash." In conversation, "Hello, I'm a Briton" would sound a little odd.

    Pattern Three: Nationality Adjective and Nationality Noun are the same

    •   Greece
    •   Cyprus
    •   Switzerland
    •   The Czech Republic    
    •   Portugal
    •   Malta

    •   Greek
    •   Cypriot
    •   Swiss
    •   Czech
    •   Portuguese    
    •   Maltese

    •   a Greek
    •   a Cypriot
    •   a Swiss
    •   a Czech
    •   a Portuguese    
    •   a Maltese

    Pattern Four: Nationality Adjective and Nationality Noun are different

    •   The Netherlands    
          (or Holland)
    •   France
    •   Wales
    •   Iceland

    •   Dutch

    •   French
    •   Welsh
    •   Icelandic    

    •   a Dutchman/woman

    •   a Frenchman/woman    
    •   a Welshman/woman
    •   an Icelander


    Sometimes Japanese students get confused about the word Dutch. This is because it sounds like the Japanese word Doitsu. So, please remember:

    • In English, Doitsu is Germany; Doitsu no is German.
    • In English, Dutch is Oranda no.

    We hope you found this week's lesson useful. There are plenty of other lessons on this website, so please click here to find them.

    © Robert E. Jones, 2004