Asking ‘Where are you from?’ in German


Are you eager to travel to Germany and meet people from different cultures or of different descents (‘Herkunft‘)? Then get ready to learn how to ask people where they are from in German!

How to ask ‘Where are you from?’ in German

Now that you know how to exchange greetings and introduce yourself in German, many Germans that you meet will be interested to know where you come from and learn some basics about your culture. And in turn, as Germany has become more diverse over the years, you will also meet people from different countries living in Germany.

When addressing someone in German, you need to know how to distinguish between the formal ‘Sie and the informal ‘du. The rule of thumb here is to always use ‘Sie‘ when you meet an adult for the first time, and keep using it until they offer you to use ‘du‘ with them. With children, you use ‘du‘ at all times.

If you’re not sure if a person you meet is underage or already of age (in Germany, you become an adult at the age of 18), it is safer to go for the polite ‘Sie‘. Accidentally addressing an adult with ‘du‘, no matter how young they may seem to you, is incredibly rude!

This is how you ask ‘Where are you from?’, using first the formal and then the informal version:

Woher kommen Sie?

Where do you come from?

Woher kommst du?

Where do you come from?

You can see that the ending of the German verb ‘kommen‘ (to come) changes depending on whether you use ‘Sie‘ or ‘du‘. You will learn more about verb conjugations in more advanced units.

Beware: If you ask someone with visibly non-German roots where they are from, and they tell you that they’re German, do not insist on asking them “where they are really from”. This is a form of xenophobic behaviour that many Germans of non-German descent often experience.

How to answer ‘Where are you from?’ in German

To answer to the question Woher kommen Sie? or Woher kommst du?, you reply with Ich komme aus ….

Ich komme aus Deutschland.

I’m from Germany.

And where do you live?

You might also want to ask where someone lives now, as this may be different from where they’re initially from.

In this case, you say:

Wo wohnen Sie?

Where do you live?

Wo wohnst du?

Where do you live?

The German word ‘wo‘ means ‘where’. In the previous examples, I used ‘woher‘, meaning ‘where … from’.

The answer to Wo wohnen Sie? or Wo wohnst du? is Ich wohne in ….

If you’d like to tell someone where you’re from and where you live in one sentence, this could look something like this:

Ich komme aus Deutschland, aber jetzt lebe ich in Kenia.

I’m from Germany, but now I live in Kenya.

German and Austrian cities – in German!

Most German cities are spelled and pronounced the same or quite similar to the way that they’re also spelled in English – for example, Hamburg or Berlin. However, some well-known German and Austrian city names are quite different from their English names.

Here are some large cities that you should know:









And finally – country names in German

In most cases, country names in German are very similar to their English counterparts. However, there are some exceptions. I’ve listed eleven country names whose spelling and pronunciation in German are quite different from the English one.





die Schweiz


die Elfenbeinküste

Ivory Coast


Czech Republic






South Africa

die Vereinigten Staaten

the United States


Vatican City



Learn more about German names for countries around the world!

Ready to travel to Germany?

I hope by now you feel ready to travel to Germany and meet Germans from various cities as well as people from other countries. But before you travel, you might want to brush up on your travel vocabulary.

What cultures are present in Germany?

Germany has become diverse, especially in larger cities, where you will meet people from everywhere. However, some nations have a higher representation than others.

After the second world war, Germany was lacking the labour force to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. This attracted many foreign workers, especially from Italy and Turkey. That’s the reason why you’ll find so many Turkish and Italian restaurants all over Germany, as well as many Germans of Italian or Turkish descent.

In more recent years, due to the war in Syria and the ruthless dictatorship of Isaias Afwerki in Eritrea, a lot of Syrians and Eritreans have migrated to Germany. Most of them have by now mastered the German language flawlessly. So you can do it, too!

If you’re interested in getting an insight into different cultures in Germany, the best place to go is Berlin! As Germany’s capital city, it is arguably the most diverse city by far.

Will I experience racism and xenophobia in Germany?

Unfortunately, racism and xenophobia are on the rise in Germany, as is the case all over the Western world. For your safety, I’d advise avoiding villages and small towns. However, even in large cities, you might experience systemic racism as well as xenophobic behaviour from some people.

If you find yourself the victim of racism and xenophobia in Germany, make sure to speak out and look for allies. You can reach out to the Anti-Discrimination Agency and inform yourself about how organizations and people in Germany are working towards tackling xenophobia.

Related Posts

AP Spanish Language Practice

Looking to improve your Spanish skills to take your AP exam? Getting the highest score is just a click away! Find the best AP Spanish

English vs Spanish Language

Are you an English speaker and looking to learn Spanish? As siblings descended from Romance languages, they naturally share similarities. Check them out in our

French and Spanish Language Comparison

Do you wanna know how the two most passionate languages are similar? Let’s talk about the differences and similarities between these romance languages! Welcome to

When did Kobe Learn Spanish

Loving father, ideal husband, amazing man, successful Lakers player, businessman, and he also speaks Spanish! Do you know who he is? How could he do

ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions

Are you taking your ALTA language exam? Don’t let it catch you off guard. Check out the ALTA Spanish Language Test Questions for your high

I Hate the Spanish Language

Do you think Spanish is a beautiful and linguistically rich language? What about the negative opinions that hinder your choice to learn it as a

Get a Certificate in French Language

If you ask yourself why should you take the certification course in French, we’ll help you decide in which cases is useful and in which

What does “Doux” mean in French?

Discover the meaning of “doux” in French and its various uses. Learn how to use this common word in everyday conversation and improve your French

Need in French: Avoir Besoin

It’s in the human need to have needs, right? Learning how to express your needs in French is by all means an important step in

German riddles

Looking for some fun ways to practice your German language skills? Check out our collection of German riddles and tongue twisters! Test your wit and

Cheers in French: 8 happy ways to say it

Celebrate in French style! This blog showcases 8 happy ways to say “cheers” in French, perfect for impressing your French-speaking friends. Santé! How to say

Different Ways to Use Fois in French

Fois is a very common French word, used in different contexts. English speakers oftentimes confuse it with the word “temps”. In this lesson, you’ll learn

Funniest French jokes

In this article, we will share some of the funniest French jokes  that will have you laughing out loud. Let’s get started! Funniest French jokes

Funniest Spanish jokes

¡Hola! You’re in for a treat if you love to laugh and speak Spanish. We’ve compiled a list of the funniest Spanish jokes that will

Jokes about French

In this article, we’ll explore the humorous side of French culture through a collection of jokes about French. Let’s get started! Jokes about French Welcome

News in French: free resources

In this article, we will explore a variety of websites, podcasts, TV channels, and other resources that you can use to stay informed about news

Short German jokes

Laugh your way through language learning with our collection of short German jokes. Discover the funniest puns, one-liners, and more in our guide! German humor

The basic Spanish hand gestures

In this blog post, we will explore the most important Spanish hand gestures, and their meanings, providing a guide to effectively communicate with Spanish speakers

Beautiful French words with meaning

Discover the beauty of the French language by learning its meanings. Learn the beautiful French words and its meaning. Beautiful French words A lot of

How do you say “good” in French?

Learn how to say “good” in French with our easy guide. Perfect for beginners and travelers looking to improve their language skills. “Good” in French

How to say “Cat” in French

How to say cat in French? What’s the word for a kitten in French? Learn more about the basic terminologies of our favorite fur pet

Learn French with PDF resources

Do you know that you can learn French with PDF resources? In this article, we will explore the advantages of using PDF resources to learn

Funny French jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny French jokes! Are you ready to simultaneously laugh and learn a little bit about French culture? French humor can

Funny German jokes

Welcome to our article on Funny German jokes! Get ready to chuckle at some of the funniest German jokes. German jokes Germany has a rich

Quotes in France by famous people

In this article, we will explore some of the most memorable and inspiring quotes in France from French people that have been passed down through

Quotes in Spain by famous people

In today’s post, you’ll learn some famous quotes in Spain by famous people. Quotes in Spain Spain has a rich cultural history and has produced

Best German proverbs

This article will explore some of the most popular German proverbs and delve into their meanings and origins. Check this out! German proverbs German proverbs

French Riddles

Learning some French riddles and playing with a French-speaking friend are great ways to practice if you know a little French. French riddles A good

How to translate Good Evening in French

Welcome to our article on translating “Good Evening” into French! Suppose you’re planning a trip to a French-speaking country or want to impress your friends

Some facts about the French mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the French mafia. facts about the French mafia The French Mafia is one of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations.

Some facts about the Spanish mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the Spanish mafia. Facts about the Spanish mafia The Spanish mafia is one of the most active and widespread criminal

Some facts about the German mafia

Let’s discover some facts about the German mafia.  Facts about the German mafia The German Mafia (; Maffia; from Italian mafiusi, “clan”) is a criminal