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In one respect English is certainly easy. The name of the language, the name of the people and the associated adjective are all the same!

And a single English person is an Englishman or Englishwoman. This gives us the following table:

LanguageAdjectiveGroup of PeopleSingle Person

However, with other nationalities things can be a lot different. For example: A person from Finland speaks Finnish but is called a Finn not a Finnishman. Two men from France are Frenchmen, but two men from Germany are not Germen but Germans (or to be more exact German men). A female from Ireland is an Irishwoman (one word) but a female from Greece is a Greek woman (two words). People from Norway speak Norwegian and are called the Norwegians (with an -s), whereas people from Portugal, who speak Portuguese, are called the Portuguese (without an -s).


Test your knowledge of nationality words by filling in the following table:

LanguageAdjectiveGroup of PeopleSingle Person
the Spanish
the Vietnamese
a Mexican


LanguageAdjectiveGroup of PeopleSingle Person
DutchDutchthe Dutcha Dutchman
PolishPolishthe Polesa Pole*
SpanishSpanishthe Spanisha Spaniard**
VietnameseVietnamesethe Vietnamesea Vietnamese*
Spanish***Mexicanthe Mexicansa Mexican*

* If someone refers to a Pole, a Vietnamese or a Mexican, you can be fairly sure that they are talking about a man. To refer to a woman from those countries, you would have to say a Polish woman or a Vietnamese woman or a Mexican woman.

** A Spaniard could be a man or a woman, although it is more likely to be a man. To be unambiguous, you should say a Spanish man or a Spanish woman.

*** This is one of the very many examples where the name of the people is not the same as the name of the language. E.g. Israelis > Hebrew or Brazilians > Portuguese.

Frankfurt International School: Art and artists. (Click to see at full size.)