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=tú)

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=ustedes)

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.

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Examples and resources

¿Eres de Inglaterra?Are you from England? (you=tú)
Andrea es de Cádiz.Andrea is from Cadiz.
Vicente y yo somos de las Islas Canarias.Vicente and I are from the Canary Islands.
Soy de Vitoria.I am from Vitoria.
Nosotras somos canadienses.We are Canadian.
Peter es irlandés.Peter is Irish.
Ustedes son australianos.You are Australian. (you=ustedes)
Soy español.I am Spanish.
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