Where are you from?

When meeting someone for the first time it is often interesting to get to know where the person is from or where he or she currently lives. So, how do you ask “Where are you from?” in German?

As always in German, this depends on who you’re talking to. You have the following options:

EnglishGerman
Where are you from? (informal)Wo kommst du her?
Where are you from? (informal)Woher kommst du?
Where are you from? (formal)Wo kommen Sie her?
Where are you from? (formal)Woher kommen Sie?

The most common option is “Wo kommst du her?” It is used in informal situations and when you’re talking to younger people. Alternatively you can also use “Woher kommst du?”, but it actually doesn’t really make much of a difference, so it’s up to you which one to use.

In formal situations on the other hand you use either “Wo kommen Sie her?” or “Woher kommen Sie?”. Again, you can use both versions interchangeably, so the choice is yours.

If you now want to answer this questions, you say:

I’m from …Ich komme aus …

For example if you’re from Germany, you say: “Ich komme aus Deutschland.”

Or if you’re from New York, you say: “Ich komme aus New York.”

So as you can see, you can use this phrases for both country names, state names and city names.

Where do you live?

Now, for many people the place that they come from is not the place that actually live in now. In order to find our where somebody currently lives we ask the question: “Where do you live?”

In German this questions can be one of the following options – again depending on formality.

EnglishGerman
Where do you live? (informal)Wo wohnst du?
Where do you live? (formal)Wo wohnen Sie?

The difference between both versions is the same as between “Wo kommst du her?” and “Wo kommen Sie her?”

So, if you’re not sure, use the formal version but in most situations, you will hear the informal version. Formal versions are becoming less and less common in German, but that’s a topic for a later article.

To answer the question “Wo wohnst du?” you say:

I live in …Ich wohne in …

If, for example, you currently live in Paris, you can say: “Ich wohne in Paris.” Again here it’s possible to say both the name of your country, your state and your city. Which one you say is up to you.

Beispiele | Examples
I’m from Australia.Ich komme aus Australien.
I’m from Shanghai.Ich komme aus Shanghai.
I’m from Cairo, Egypt.Ich komme aus Kairo in Ägypten.

Stay tuned for more articles about the German numbers and other essentials for learning German!

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