Using ser (not estar) to express origin or nationality

One of the uses of ser (not estar) is to express origin or nationality. Have a look and listen to these examples:

Soy de Vitoria.
I am from Vitoria.

Andrea es de Cádiz.
Andrea is from Cadiz.

¿Eres de Inglaterra?
Are you from England? (You singular informal.)

Vicente y yo somos de las Islas Canarias.
Vicente and I are from the Canary Islands.

In the examples above, it is compulsory to use the preposition de to express origin with towns, cities, countries or islands.

Ser (conjugated) + de + [origin]

Now read and listen to these examples:

Soy español.
I am Spanish.

Peter es irlandés.
Peter is Irish.

Nosotras somos canadienses.
We are Canadian.

Ustedes son australianos.
You are Australian. (You formal plural.)

In the examples above, we do not use the preposition de when talking about nationalities.

Be careful!

  • With nationalities: Soy de español. Soy español. (I am Spanish).
  • Remember that nationalities are never capitalised in Spanish!

See also Using ser (not estar) to express an essential or permanent characteristic.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Nosotras somos canadienses.
We are Canadian.


Soy de Vitoria.
I am from Vitoria.


Peter es irlandés.
Peter is Irish.


Soy español.
I am Spanish.


Vicente y yo somos de las Islas Canarias.
Vicente and I are from the Canary Islands.


Andrea es de Cádiz.
Andrea is from Cadiz.


Ustedes son australianos.
You are Australian. (You formal plural.)


¿Eres de Inglaterra?
Are you from England? (You singular informal.)


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