Arabic Language Blog

Arabic Vocabulary: Nationalities Posted by on Oct 22, 2009 in Arabic Language

Nationalities (جِنْسِيَّات) are formed as adjectives in Arabic by adding the suffix (يّ) to the end of the country name. For example, Egypt is (مِصْر), and Egyptian is (مِصْري); Algeria is (الجَزَائِر), and Algerian is (جَزَائِري), Brazil is (البَرَازيل), and Brazilian is (بَرَازيلي).

There are some changes done to certain country names when we form nationalities from them, e.g. country names that end in (ا) like (بَرِيطَانيا) ‘Britain’, (أَلْمَانيا) ‘Germany’, (أَنْدونِيسْيا) ‘Indonesia’, etc. In these names, the long (ا) disappears in the nationality, e.g.







Likewise, in country names that end in(ة), e.g. (مَالْطَة) ‘Malta’ and (السَعُوديَّة) ‘Saudi Arabia’, the final (ة) disappears in nationalities, e.g. (مَالْطَي) and (سَعُوديَّ).

Very few countries have more changes to their names when making the nationalities, e.g. (اِنْجِلْتِرا) becomes (إنْجلِيزِي), (أَفْغانِستَان) becomes (أَفْغانِي) and (النِّمْسا) becomes (نِمْساوي).

We should always remember that like any other adjectives, nationalities have to agree with nouns they describe in gender, number and case. Some nationalities have sound plural, e.g. (مِصْري) and (مِصْريون), while others have broken plurals, e.g. (إنْجلِيزِي) and (إنْجلِيز).

Consider the following examples:

لي أصدقاء مصريون وأصدقاء إنجليز.

“I have Egyptian and English friends.”

زوجته أمريكية.

“His wife is American.”

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