Friday, 6 December 2013

What Is Your Nationality?

This post is about exchanging personal details in general, and more specifically about details of nationality.

Imagine you are exchanging personal details. You come to the point of dealing with nationalities. The other person decides to ask what nationality you are and says: what is your nationality?

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and ask you:
¿De qué nacionalidad eres?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
¿De qué nacionalidad es usted?

You are being asked to give your nationality. When giving your nationality, you DO NOT need be concerned about the degree of formality in the other person's question. Whether the other person uses the more/ less formal question is irrelevant to your choice of answer.

Here are a few sample answers*:
  • Soy inglés (I am English – male);
  • Soy inglesa (I am English – female);
  • Soy escocés (I am Scottish – male);
  • Soy escocesa (I am Scottish – female);
  • Soy galés (I am Welsh – male);
  • Soy galesa (I am Welsh – female);
  • Soy irlandés (I am Irish – male);
  • Soy irlandesa (I am Irish – female);
  • Soy italiano (I am Italian – male);
  • Soy italiana (I am Italian – female);
  • Soy americano (I am American – male);
  • Soy americana (I am American – female);
  • Soy español (I am Spanish – male);
  • Soy española (I am Spanish – female);
  • Soy estadounidense (I am from the USA -male or female);
  • Soy canadiense (I am Canadian -male or female);
  • Soy vietnamita (I am Vietnamese -male or female)

Now you should practise answering the question:
¿De qué nacionalidad eres?

*NB See Grammar below


Noun-Adjective Agreement

See notes below on Noun-Adjective agreement

Noun-Adjective Agreement
As you can see above, in Spanish you can also use a describing word/ adjective to indicate where someone comes from. Below follow some notes on how to choose the correct form of the adjective for a given noun.

Adjectives -Gender
When you use Spanish describing words/ adjectives, you need to bear in mind that for each describing word in English, there are often two related but different describing words/ adjectives in Spanish. The reason being that Spanish describing words/ adjectives have to 'agree' with the gender (masculine or feminine) of the noun they describe. Most Spanish describing words have similar but separate words for each of the two genders (for example, americano/ americana). A few, however have one single form (for example, canadiense).

Thus when you come to use a describing word to indicate where someone comes from, you need to check whether the corresponding Spanish describing word/ adjective has:
  • One single form (for example , estadounidense).
  • Two separate forms (for example, inglés/ inglesa).- If the describing word/ adjective has two separate forms, then you need to choose the form which matches the gender (masculine/ feminine) of the noun it describes.
*NB View posts with details about the plural of Spanish words here.

Please note that in Spanish, the names of countries, towns, cities, etc. (for example, “Inglaterra” or “Londres”) are capitalised. However, the nationality describing words/ adjectives (for example “italiana”) are not.

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