In one respect English is certainly easy. The name of the language, the name of the people and the associated adjective are all the same.
- Can you speak English? (language)
- The English are famous for their strange humour. (people)
- Do you like English food? (adjective)
And a single English person is an Englishman or Englishwoman. This gives us the following table:
However, with other nationalities things can be a lot different. For example: A person from Finland speaks Finnish but is called a Finn not a Finnishman. Two men from France are Frenchmen, but two men from Germany are not Germen but Germans (or to be more exact German men).
A female from Ireland is an Irishwoman (one word) but a female from Greece is a Greek woman (two words). People from Norway speak Norwegian and are called the Norwegians (with an -s), whereas people from Portugal, who speak Portuguese, are called the Portuguese (without an -s).
Test your knowledge of nationality words by filling in the following table:
* There is no word Dutchwoman. It has to be a Dutch woman.
** To be unambiguous about sex, you have to use adjective + noun. For example, a Spanish man or a Vietnamese woman.
*** This is one of the very many examples where the name of the people is not the same as the name of the language. E.g. Israelis → Hebrew or Brazilians → Portuguese.