Funnily enough, I can translate some of a debate that we had on the Spanish Big in Finland website about the words “finés” and “finlandés”, since they are often used as synonyms despite not quite being the same.
One of them – finés – was for the language, and the other one – finlandés – was for the people who live in Finland.
Finn or Finnish?
In English, the debate, or rather the doubts around the words’ use, is a bit different. In English we have the words “Finn” and “Finnish”, which are not synonyms. The main difference between them is that the word Finn is a noun, while Finnish is an adjective.
This is the Finnish language. Source.
When you talk about the people of Finland, you can say that they are Finns or that they are Finnish people. “Finnish”, without a noun next to it, doesn’t refer to the people. Here we can also attach any other noun that links to Finland like “Finnish language”, “Finnish design”, etc.
“The Finns”, as such, refers to natives of Finland or the population of Finland. What they call themselves, in Finnish language, is suomalaiset (in singular suomalainen).
The Finnish flag.
Earlier we also said that “Finnish” is an adjective, for example in the case of the language. But since in Finland there are two official languages, we can distinguish between Finnish-speaking Finns and Swedish-speaking Finns. Another language that is not official is the Sámi language. The Sami people born in Finland – some of them are also from Norway and from Sweden – are also Finns. They are sometimes depicted as the original Finns, since they are the native population of the country (they look more like people from Mongolia than what we have in mind about the Finnish people).
An interesting issue? I think so.
And, last but not least, this is a Finn too. In fact, it is all of Finn.
Finn, from the great tv series Adventure Time. Source.