Imagine this: You’re on a train to Rome and you’ve made friends with the people sitting next to you. You’ve said hello, they’ve asked you your name and how you’re doing, and now they want to know where you’re from.
Are you ready? You will be after reading this article!
Telling someone where you are from is far more than a simple geographic indicator; it’s also a potentially great way to understand someone’s culture and way of life. These questions are usually some of the “go-to” topics we use when interacting with people for the first time, so it’s always a good idea to have a good grasp on them when speaking in a foreign language.
Plus, it can help you interact with local italians throughout your day! Italians are typically not shy when it comes to complimenting someone on their Italian language skills, or even picking up on a different accent. And it’s not uncommon for baristas, shop owners, or even train conductors to ask the age-old question, Di dove sei, in order to find out more about the foreign people they meet in Italy. Wouldn’t you love to have multiple ways to answer that question (and ask it!) in your back pocket?
In this article, you’ll learn 20 different ways to ask where someone is from in different contexts, as well as 10 various phrases to use as a model when answering. Let’s get started!
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How do I say Where are you from? in Italian (Informal)
Our first table features informal ways to ask someone “Where are you from?”in Italian, ranging from simple to more complex sentences. In some cases, you’ll even notice ways to address a group of people, which can be especially helpful if you’re meeting people in groups.
Before we dive into this table, a review of the verb essere (to be) and masculine and feminine endings might be helpful! And if you’d really like a thorough review, you can check out this article on pronouns and other useful grammar points.
- Io sono
- Tu sei
- Lui / Lei è
- Noi siamo
- Voi siete
- Loro sono
When it comes to certain adjectives in this article, you’ll need to pay attention to the masculine or feminine endings. We’re also going to be using the passive form (Sono nato/a = I was born), which will also change depending on who is speaking. Here’s a quick guide:
- Masculine singular: o (sono nato in Italia / I (man) was born in Italy.)
- Feminine singular: a (sono nata in Italia / I (woman) was born in Italy.)
- Masculine plural: i (sono nati in Italia / They (men) were born in Italy.)
- Feminine plural: e (sono nate in Italia/ They (women) were born in Italy.)
Keep in mind that our second and fourth examples in the table below use “ragazzi” as a way to refer to “you guys”, a mixed group of men and women.
|Where are you from?||Di dove sei?||di ˈdove ˈssɛi̯||dee doe-veh say|
|Hey guys! Where are you from?||Ehilà ragazzi! Di dove siete?||ei̯la raˈɡattsi di ˈdove ssjete||ay-la rah-gatz-see dee doe-veh sye-teh|
|Where were you born?||Dove sei nato/a?||ˈdove ˈssɛi̯ ˈnato / ˈnata||doe-veh say nah-toe / nah-ta|
|Where were you guys born?||Dove siete nati/nate?||ˈdove ssjete ˈnati / ˈnate||doe-veh sye-teh nah-tee / nah-teh|
|What’s your hometown?||Qual è la tua città natale?||kwal ˈɛ lla ˈtua tʃitˈta nnaˈtale||kwal eh la too-ah chee-tah nah-tah-leh|
|Which part of the world did you grow up in?||In quale parte del mondo sei cresciuto/a?||in ˈkwale ˈparte ˈdel ˈmondo ˈsɛi̯ kreʃˈʃuto | kreʃˈʃuta||een kwal eh par-teh del mon-doe say kre-schu-to / kre-schu-tah|
|Where did you grow up?||Dove sei cresciuto/a?||ˈdove ˈssɛi̯ kreʃˈʃuto | kreʃˈʃuta||doe-veh say kre-schu-to / kre-schu-tah|
|Where do you live?||Dove vivi?||ˈdove ˈvvivi||doe-veh vee-vee|
|Where do you live? (plural)||Dove vivete?||ˈdove vviˈvete||doe-veh vee-vet-eh|
|What’s your nationality?||Qual è la tua nazionalità?||kwal ˈɛ lla ˈtua nattsjonaliˈta||kwal eh la too-ah natz-yo-nal-ee-tah|
|Which part of the United States are you from?||Da quale parte degli Stati Uniti vieni?||da ˈkkwale ˈparte ˈdeʎʎi ˈstati uˈniti ˈvjɛni||da kwal eh par-teh del-li sta-tee oo-nee-tee vyeh-nee|
|Are you Italian?||Sei italiano/a?||ˈsɛi̯ itaˈljano | itaˈljana||say ee-tal-ya-no / ee-tal-ya-na|
|Are you Italian? (plural)||Siete italiani/e?||sjete itaˈljani / itaˈljane||sye-teh ee-tal-ya-nee / ee-tal-ya-neh|
|I love your accent. Where are you from?||Amo il tuo accento! Di dove sei?||ˈamo il ˈtuo atˈtʃɛnto ‖ di ˈdove ˈssɛi̯||ah-mo il two-oh ah-chen-toe ‖ dee doe-veh say|
|You speak Italian really well! Where are you from?||Parli molto bene l’italiano! Di dove sei?||ˈparli ˈmolto ˈbɛneˈbɛne ˈbene litaˈljano ‖ di ˈdove ˈssɛi̯||par-lee mol-toe beh-neh ee-tal-ya-no ‖ dee doe-veh say|
How do I say Where are you from? in Italian (Formal)
Not every interaction in Italian is going to be informal, so it would be a good idea to brush up on some formal phrases, too. After all, you never know when you might find yourself in situations that require a more formal tone. These could range from situations involving a medical professional, chatting with an older stranger on the metro, or even passing the time with your barista as they prepare your cappuccino. And if you ever find yourself needing to address a group of people using a formal tone, just use voi!
Check out the formalized versions of the questions in the previous table down below. You’ll notice a few minor changes when it comes to addressing someone formally in the third person.
|Where are you from?||Di dov’è Lei?||di dovˈɛ ˈllɛi̯||dee doe-veh|
|Where were you born?||Dov’è nato/a Lei?||dovˈɛ ˈnnato | ˈnata ˈlɛi̯||doe-veh nah-toe / nah-ta lay|
|What’s your hometown?||Qual è la sua città natale?||kwal ˈɛ lla ˈsua tʃitˈta nnaˈtale||kwal eh la soo-ah chee-tah nah-tah-leh|
|Which part of the world did you grow up in?||In quale parte del mondo è cresciuto/a?||in ˈkwale ˈparte ˈdel ˈmondo ˈɛ kkreʃˈʃuto / kreʃˈʃuta||een kwal eh par-teh del mon-doe eh kre-schu-to / kre-schu-tah|
|Where did you grow up?||Dov’è cresciuto/a Lei?||dovˈɛ kkreʃˈʃuto / kreʃˈʃuta ˈlɛi̯||doe-veh kre-schu-to / kre-schu-tah|
|Where do you live?||Dove vive?||ˈdove ˈvvive||doe-veh vee-veh|
|What’s your nationality?||Qual è la sua nazionalità?||kwal ˈɛ lla ˈsua nattsjonaliˈta||kwal eh la soo-ah natz-yo-nal-ee-tah|
|Which part of the United States are you from?||Da quale parte degli Stati Uniti viene?||da ˈkkwale ˈparte ˈdeʎʎi ˈstati uˈniti ˈvjɛne||da kwal eh par-teh del-li sta-tee oo-nee-tee vyeh-neh|
|Are you Italian?||Lei è italiano/a?||ˈlɛi̯ ˈɛ itaˈljano / itaˈljana||lay eh ee-tal-ya-no / ee-tal-ya-na|
|I love your accent. Where are you from?||Amo il suo accento! Di dov’è Lei?||ˈamo il ˈsuo atˈtʃɛnto ‖ di dovˈɛ ˈllɛi̯||ah-mo il soo-oh ah-chen-toe ‖ dee doe-veh lay|
|You speak Italian really well! Where are you from?||Parla molto bene l’italiano! Di dov’è Lei?||ˈparla ˈmolto ˈbɛne litaˈljano ‖ di dovˈɛ ˈllɛi̯||par-lah mol-toe beh-neh ee-tal-ya-no ‖ dee doe-veh|
How to respond to “Where are you from?”
Now that we’ve covered different ways to ask someone where they’re from, it’s time to get into the responses! If you’re not familiar with all the different ways to talk about countries of origin, cities, and nationalities, you should check out our article first. It’s really helpful when understanding the different articles that go before each country, which will have an impact on your response.
In the meantime, let’s quickly review the seven definite articles in Italian that all mean “the”: lo, il, la, l’, gli, i, le.
These seven articles impact how we say “I come from (Vengo da…)” before stating the country. Let’s take a brief look at seven different examples - one for each article.
- LO Yemen → Vengo dallo Yemen.
- IL Canada → Vengo dal Canada.
- LA Francia (France) → Vengo dalla Francia.
- L’ Italia → Vengo dall’Italia.
- GLI Stati Uniti (the United States) → Vengo dagli Stati Uniti.
- I Paesi Bassi (the Netherlands) → Vengo dai Paesi Bassi.
- LE Filippine (the Philippines) → Vengo dalle Filippine.
If you want to tell someone the city you’re from, you can just use da, as in, Vengo da Parigi. (I come from Paris).
Alright, so telling someone which country you’re from in Italian could be a bit more complicated than answering in English. But with time and practice, these definite articles will be a bit more natural - I promise!
Now that we’ve had our daily dose of grammar, let’s take a look at all the different ways to respond. Each example has a different country and nationality, so try inputting your own to practice a bit more.
|I’m from Mexico. What about you?||Vengo dal Messico. È tu / Lei?||ˈvɛnɡo dal messiko ‖ ˈɛ ttu | ˈlɛi̯||ven-go dal mess-ee-ko ‖ eh too / lay|
|I’m Mexican. What about you?||Sono Messicano/a. È tu / Lei?||sono messiˈkano / messiˈkana ‖ ˈɛ ttu | ˈlɛi̯||so-no mess-ee-ka-no / mess-ee-ka-na ‖ eh too / lay|
|I come from South Africa. And you?||Vengo dal Sud Africa. È tu / Lei?||ˈvɛnɡo dal sud ˈafrika ‖ ˈɛ ttu | ˈlɛi̯||ven-go dal sood af-ree-ka ‖ eh too / lay|
|I’m from France, but I’m currently living in Italy.||Vengo dalla Francia, ma attualmente abito in Italia.||ˈvɛnɡo dalla ˈfrantʃa | ma attwalˈmente ˈabito in italja||ven-go dal-la fran-cha ma at-too-al-men-teh ah-bee-toe een ee-tal-ya|
|I’m American, but I feel Italian at heart!||Sono americano/a, ma mi sento italiano/a.||sono ameriˈkano / ameriˈkana ma mmi ˈsɛnto itaˈljano / itaˈljana||so-no ah-mer-ee-ka-no / ah-mer-ee-ka-na ma mee sen-toe ee-tal-ya-no / ee-tal-ya-na|
|I was born and raised in the United States, but now I live in Italy.||Sono nato/a e cresciuto/a negli Stati Uniti, ma adesso abito/a in Italia.||sono nato /nata ˈe kkreʃˈʃuto | kreʃˈʃuta ˈneʎʎi ˈstati uˈniti ma aˈdɛsso ˈabito /’abita in italja||so-no nah-toe / nah-ta e kresch-oo-to / kresch-oo-ta neh-li sta-tee oo-nee-tee ma ah-des-so ah-bee-toe / ah-bee-ta een ee-tal-ya|
|I’m from Montreal, and you?||Sono di Montreal. È tu / Lei invece?||sono di montreal ‖ ˈɛ ttu | ˈlɛi̯ inˈvetʃe||so-no dee mon-tre-al ‖ eh too / lay in-veh-che|
|I come from Philadelphia, and you?||Vengo da Philadelphia. È tu / Lei invece?||ˈvɛnɡo da ppiladelpja ‖ ˈɛ ttu / ˈlɛi̯ inˈvetʃe||ven-go dah fil-a-del-fee-ah eh too / lay in-veh-che|
|I was born in Spain, and moved to South Africa when I was three.||Sono nato/a in Spagna, e poi mi sono trasferito/a in Sud Africa quando avevo tre anni.||sono ˈnato / ˈnata in spaɲɲa ˈe ˈppɔi̯ mi sono trasfeˈrito / trasfeˈrita in sud ˈafrika ˈkwando aˈvevo ˈtre ˈanni||So-no na-to / na-ta een spa-nya e poy mee so-no tras-fer-ee-toe / tras-fer-ee-ta een sood af-ree-ka qwan-doe ah-veh-vo tre an-nee|
|I’m originally from the United States, but I lived in Canada for most of my life.||Sono originario/a degli Stati Uniti,ma ho vissuto in Canada per la maggior parte della mia vita.||sono oridʒiˈnarjo | oridʒiˈnarja ˈdeʎʎi ˈstati unitima ˈɔ vvisˈsuto in kanada ˈper la maddʒor ˈparte ˈdella ˈmia ˈvita||so-no or-eej-ee-nar-ee-oh / or-eej-ee-nar-ee-ya dell-lee sta-tee oo-nee-tee ma o vees-oo-toe een ka-nah-da per la ma-jor par-teh del-la mee-ah vee-tah|
Helpful tips for Italian bureaucracy
Beautiful beaches, delicious Italian food, melodic language…is there anything negative about Italy!? Well, if you were to ask most Italian citizens this question, chances are they might tell you a bit about the burocrazia and all of the red tape that can accompany it. Of course, all situations are different, but it wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with some of the most common questions related to residential bureaucracy and different ways to answer them.
Maybe you’re planning a future semi-permanent move to the Italian peninsula. Or maybe you’re hoping to answer the Customs Official’s questions in Italian next time you’re journeying through the Milan airport. Whatever the reason, here are some helpful questions and answers you’d likely use when dealing with Italian bureaucracy. All of them are included in the third person, just because these situations tend to occur in formal situations.
Common questions related to residential bureaucracy
You’ll notice that the last question involves family members (parents). If you’d like to review talking about where your family members are from, feel free to brush up on that vocabulary in this article!
|What’s your country of residence?||Qual è il suo paese di residenza?||kwal ˈɛ il ˈsuo paˈeze di reziˈdɛntsa||kwal e il soo-oh pa-eh-seh dee res-ee-den-za|
|Where do you currently reside?||Dove risiede attualmente?||ˈdove rriˈzjɛde attwalˈmente||doe-veh ree-see-eh-deh a-two-al-men-teh|
|Which citizenship do you have?||Che cittadinanza ha?||ˈke ttʃittadiˈnantsa a||ke chit-ta-dee-nan-za a|
|Where is your permanent residence?||Dov’è la sua residenza permanente?||dovˈɛ lla ˈsua reziˈdɛntsa permaˈnɛnte||do-veh la soo-ah res-ee-den-za per-ma-nen-teh|
|Where were your parents born?||Dove sono nati i suoi genitori?||ˈdove ssono ˈnati i ˈswɔi̯ dʒeniˈtori||do-veh so-no nah-tee ee su-oy jen-ee-tor-ee|
How to respond to residential bureaucracy questions
|My country of residence is Italy.||Il mio paese di residenza è l’Italia.||il ˈmio paˈeze di reziˈdɛntsa ˈɛ llitalja||il mee-oh pa-es-eh dee res-ee-den-za eh ee-tal-ya|
|I currently reside in Modena.||Attualmente risiedo a Modena.||attwalˈmente riˈzjɛdo a mmodena||a-two-al-men-teh ree-si-eh-do a mo-deh-na|
|I have American citizenship.||Ho la cittadinanza americana.||ˈɔ lla tʃittadiˈnantsa ameriˈkana||o la chit-ta-dee-nan-za ah-mer-ee-cah-na|
|I’m a citizen of the United States.||Sono cittadino/a degli Stati Uniti.||sono tʃittaˈdino / tʃittaˈdina ˈdeʎʎi ˈstati uˈniti||so-no chit-ta-dee-no / chit-ta-dee-na deh-lee sta-tee oo-nee-tee|
|My permanent residence is in Italy.||La mia residenza permanente è in Italia.||la ˈmia reziˈdɛntsa permaˈnɛnte ˈɛ in italja||la mee-ah res-ee-den-za per-ma-nen-teh eh een ee-tal-ya|
|My parents were born in… / My mother was born in… / My father was born in…||I miei genitori sono nati in Canada. Mia madre è nata a Toronto. Mio padre è nato a Vancouver.||i ˈmjɛi̯ dʒeniˈtori sono ˈnati in kanada ‖ ˈmia ˈmadre ˈɛ ˈnnata a ttoronto ‖ ˈmio ˈpadre ˈɛ ˈnnato a vvankouver ‖||ee mee-ey jen-ee-tor-ee so-no nah-tee een ka-na-da ‖ mee-ah mah-dre eh na-ta ah tor-on-toe ‖ mee-oh pah-dre eh na-to a van-kou-ver|
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Got your answer ready?
So, do you have your answer ready for your new friends on the train? I’m sure you do, and I hope you have a few ideas on how to ask them where they’re from, too!
No matter how advanced you become in Italian, you’ll probably find that these somewhat basic questions occur more often than most.
Questions about our origins can even lead into other more meaningful conversations about life, dreams, and…maybe even the most delicious food your hometown is known for.
Aside from looking at different questions and responses, we also reviewed some grammatical points in this article that can impact the ways we ask and talk about our countries of origin. If you’d like to study those a bit more, check out different ways to learn Italian with us, and even learn Italian online.
See you on the next train home!