Are Nationalities Capitalized?

The rules of grammar may sometimes appear not to be very structured when it comes to writing in the English language. When one rule applies at one point, it may not apply if the conditions of the text change very slightly. We are going to explore the question of whether nationalities are capitalized. We know that when writing in English, place names such as countries or towns are always capitalized, but does this extend to nationalities?

Are nationalities capitalized?

In short, the answer to this question is yes. When referring to someone’s nationality within written English, you should always begin the nationality with a capital letter. This includes when nationality is mentioned both at the start of a sentence and when it is placed elsewhere within it.

It is important to remember that the word nationality itself is never capitalized unless appearing at the very start of a sentence.


To demonstrate how the capitalization of nationalities within written English works, here are some examples of sentences.

  • I wasn’t sure whether she was Spanish or Italian.
  • Claire is American.
  • There are many countries in the continent of Africa, I was not certain which one he came from. He could have been Kenyan, South African, Tanzanian, Senegalese or any of the other nationalities from the continent.
  • For those born in South America, they could be any one of the following nationalities; Argentinian, Brazilian, Chilean, Peruvian or many others.

This is an example of a conversation featuring a number of nationalities.

“Do you know where Larry is from?”

“I’m not sure, perhaps he is Austrian?”

“No, I don’t think he is, he could be Polish?”

“Maybe he is, but I’m sure I heard someone say he was Russian.”

New Additions to Style Guides: Black and Indigenous

Due to renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement in May/June 2020, the AP Stylebook has decided to now capitalize the word “Black” when referring to people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa.

Additionally, the AP has decided to capitalize the word “Indigenous” when referring to original inhabitants of a place.

Other Nationalities that Should be Capitalized

    • American
    • Asian
    • Asian American
    • Australian
    • Austrian
    • Belarusian
    • Belgian
    • Brazilian
    • British
    • Bulgarian
    • Canadian
    • Chinese
    • Czech
    • Danish
    • Dutch
    • Egyptian
    • Estonian
    • Finnish
    • French
    • Georgian
    • German
    • Greek
    • Hungarian
    • Indian
    • Irish
    • Israeli
    • Italian
    • Japanese
    • Korean
    • Latino
    • Latvian
    • Lithuanian
    • Mexican
    • Native American
    • New Zealander
    • Norwegian
    • Polish
    • Portuguese
    • Romanian
    • Russian
    • Scottish
    • Slovak / Slovakian
    • South African
    • Spanish
    • Swedish
    • Swiss
    • Turkish
    • Ukrainian
    • Welsh


When writing in English, a nationality is always capitalized. They always begin with a capital letter regardless of their placement within a sentence. There are never any exceptions to this rule.

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