The Spaniards

Dear teachers,
Can you help me with one problem. Recently an email pal of my suggested that we should use “the Spaniards” not “the Spaniard”. I rely on her knowledge but I would still like to check: We use “the English” and “the French” when we speak about the whole nation, then why should we use plural “s” for the nation of Spain.
All the best

Hi Ahmadov,

I should have thought the simplest word to describe the whole nation is simply the Spanish.


It has never struck me before, but maybe the reason for gentilics like French, English, Irish, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Lebanese, Balinese, etc. not taking an ‘s’ in the plural is only a phonetic one, as they all end in a sibilant sound. All other demonyms (I don’t like the sound of this word!) take a plural form, as far as I know.

Speaking of nationalities it occurred to me that there are two words to describe the indigenous people of America - native American and Indian. Or is Indian only used to speak about the people who live in India? I remember seeing an American movie called An Indian in the cupboard and the hero was a native American not a person from India. That’s very confusing, at least to me. What do you think about it?

You’re right, Nicole, it can be confusing. How often have I heard or had to say myself, ‘I mean American Indians’ or ‘I mean the ones from India’. And we owe it all to Christopher Columbus, who called them ‘indios’, thinking he was in ‘the Indies’…

Hi Conchita, thanks for your immediate response. Maybe, people from different countries use different words when talking about the indigenous inhabitants of America. I think the politically correct term in the US is native American but then again I’m not sure because that movie was American too and the title was An Indian in the Cupboard not a Native American in the Cupboard
What about Canadians, Mexicans or other people living in the Americas, what words do they use? And what is Indian in Spanish?

Hello Nicole,

This will clear our doubts:

Indian in Spanish is ‘indio’.

Good night!