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10 Slick Ways to Say “Where are you from” in Spanish

10 Slick Ways to Say “Where are you from” in Spanish

If you want to speak Spanish like a native, you need to use many expressions. Saying the same sentences multiple times can become boring.

Asking someone where they are from is an important conversation starter. So if you want to know how to ask this and get it right, keep reading. 

 

How to Ask “Where are you from” in Spanish

  1. ¿De dónde eres?
  2. ¿De dónde es usted?
  3. ¿De dónde vienes?
  4. ¿De dónde viene usted?
  5. ¿Dónde naciste?
  6. ¿Dónde nació usted?
  7. ¿Cuál es su nacionalidad?
  8. ¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?
  9. ¿De qué país vienes?
  10. ¿De qué país viene usted?

 

1. ¿De dónde eres?

Let’s start by talking about the most common way to say where are you from in Spanish. The translation of ‘¿De dónde eres?’ literally translates to “From ‘de’ where ‘donde are ‘eres’ you ’tu’?”

It is the informal way of conjugating the verb ‘ser.’

In Spanish, you use this when you ‘tutear’ someone. Tutear means to use ‘’, the informal version of ‘you’.

You can ‘tutear’ people you know or people you meet in informal settings. It is not appropriate to use this when talking to someone in a position of power or respect. 

You can always tell an informal verb in Spanish because it will end with the letter s. ‘Tú’ is the only Spanish pronoun that makes a verb end in s. 

The verb here is ‘ser’. You see ‘eres’ and it ends in s, so you know it’s informal for the pronoun ‘tú.’ 

Here is an example and for context, these people are blood-related but meeting for the first time. 

Example:

Luisa: Hola, ¿De dónde eres?

Hi, where are you from?

Maria: Soy de Venezuela. 

I am from Venezuela.

 
You can never use ‘estar’ to say where you are from. ‘Estar’ means there is a change in condition but where we are from is permanent. 

All of the examples in this blog will use ‘ser’ because you are learning how to ask someone about something permanent. 

When you reply you also need to use ser in the first person in Spanish. You must say ‘soy de’ which means I am from then the country 

 

2. ¿De dónde es usted?

Here is another way of asking “Where are you from?” in Spanish. It translates to “From where are you?” but in this example you are using the formal version of you ‘usted’.

You should use ‘usted’ when talking to people you do not know or people who deserve respect. 

Some examples are a doctor, police officer, or teacher. You should still use formal language even if you already know these people. 

The meaning of ‘¿De dónde eres?’ and ‘¿De dónde es usted?’ Is the same. These translate to “from where are you?” in English. 

Some people in Latin America will ignore that ‘usted’ is formal and use it when talking to anyone they know. In Colombia, it is common for people to say ‘usted’ for everyone they talk to. 

Meanwhile, in Spain, ‘usted’ is rarely used. The use of formal and informal language depends on the country you are in. 

Here you are still using ‘ser’ instead of ‘estar’ but it is conjugated as ‘es’ instead of ‘eres.’ 

‘Ser’ and ‘Estar’ are irregular verbs. The conjugation rule of seeing an s for informal verbs is not relevant. 

With most verbs, you can follow the rule of s at the end of the verb. It is easy to notice most of the time unless a verb is irregular. 

Here’s an example and in this situation, a woman is talking to her doctor. 

Example:

Josefina: ¿De dónde es usted?

Where are you from?

Doctor: Soy de Mexico. 

I am from Mexico.

 
In both the formal and informal responses the speaker replies with ‘soy de’ and then the country. ‘Soy de’ means “I am from”.

The doctor says, “I am from Mexico.” You must use ser because where you are from is permanent. 

 

3. ¿De dónde vienes?

Here is another way to say “where are you from?” in Spanish. This version is lesson common and is only used in certain contexts. 

The literal translation of this is “From ‘de’ where ‘dóndeyou come ‘vienes’? ‘Venir’ means to come and it is also an irregular verb with a stem change. 

A stem change means the verb changes before its ending. All verbs in Spanish end with er, ir or ar so the change happens before these endings. 

The most common stem change in Spanish is e>ie. When a verb has an e>ie stem change and there are two e’s in the second e becomes ie. 

‘Venir’ has a stem change in the first e because it is stressed. 

Stem changes only happen with certain forms of the verb. If a verb is conjugated with for ‘yo’ (I), ‘tú’ (informal you), el (he), ‘ella’ (she), ‘ellos’ (they), ‘ellas’ (feminine they), or ‘usted’ (formal you) it usually triggers a stem change but not always. 

It is impossible to recognize a stem-changing verb at first glance. 

The only way to know if a verb is a stem-change is to memorize it. 

You use this when you want to ask someone where they are really from.

This is the informal version and we can tell because the verb ‘venir’ ends with an s. 

You should only use this if you talk with someone and want to know where they are originally from. 

A common situation may be if someone cannot speak English but live in America. If they speak Spanish and live in America. 

For context Juan is asking Jose where he is originally from. Currently, he lives in the USA but is learning how to speak English. 

Example:

Juan: ¿De dónde vienes?

Where are you from?

Jose: Vengo de Argentina.

I am from Argentina.

 
Here Juan is asking Jose “from where do you come?” It is informal so Jose does not hold a position of power or respect. 

Jose replies, “I come ‘vengo’ from ‘de’ Argentina.” ‘Venir’ is a highly irregular verb. 

When you say ‘venir’ in the first person singular ‘yo’ the ending of the verb ‘ir’ becomes go. 

There is no way to understand this without memorizing it or exposure. 

How to Say Where are you from in Spanish

 

4. ¿De dónde viene usted?

Again we have the same sentence as above. The only difference is formality.

Although you can use this to ask someone where they are from, it is not recommended.

As this is a less formal way of asking “where are you from?” and it is more personal it is recommended to reserve this for someone you have met multiple times. 

Make sure you do not use this when talking to someone for the first time.

Instead, use it after you have gotten to know the person but they are still in a position of power or respect. 

A great context for when to use this informal saying with the formal you ‘usted’ is when talking to a professor and you are nearly finished with your course. 

The only difference between ‘¿De dónde vienes?’ and ‘¿De dónde viene usted?’ Is the formality and adding the pronoun ‘usted’ at the end of the question. 

You must include this formal pronoun after the verb or it could be confused for ‘el’ (he). In Spanish, the conjugation for ‘el’ (he) and formal ‘usted’ (you) are the same. 

Always include ‘usted’ after the verb or the person you are speaking to will not understand who the question is directed at. 

 

5. ¿Dónde naciste?

Here is a follow up question to clarify where someone is from in Spanish. You can use this after asking ‘¿De dónde vienes?’ or ‘¿De dónde eres?’

This literally translates to “where ‘dónde’ were you born ‘naciste’?” You should never ask this initially as it can be offensive. 

But if you are talking to someone and want more clarification on where they’re from you can ask this. 

‘Nacer’ means to be born. We must conjugate this using the past tense.

This is a finished action that is not in progress. You can only be born once so you must use the past preterite

The past preterite tells you that an action is completed in the past. You know this is informal because the past preterite of ‘tu’ changes the ending of the verb to -ste.

If a verb ends in ar you will always use -aste. If a verb ends with er or ie you will conjugate it in the past using -iste.

Here’s an example of how to use this to get a better understanding of where someone is from. 

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿De dónde eres?

Hi, where are you from?

Jose: Soy de Houston, Texas. 

I am from Houston, Texas.

Juan: Pero, ¿Dónde naciste?

But where were you born?

*Where are you originally from?

Jose: Yo nací en Mexico.

I was born in Mexico. 

*I’m originally from Mexico. 

 
When translated to English this can also mean, “where are you from originally?”

 

6. ¿Dónde nació usted?

In this example, you are asking someone where they were born. It is formal because we see ‘usted.’

You can use this as a follow-up to gain more information about where someone is from in Spanish. 

You must use the past preterite in Spanish. The past preterite tells us that the action is finished. 

When you conjugate the past preterite in Spanish with ‘usted’ (formal you) the conjugation depends on the verb’s ending. 

For verbs ending in er and ir you must change the ending to -ió. If a verb ends in ar you must replace it with ó.

Here is an example of using this to get more information about where someone is from. 

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿De dónde es usted?

Hi, where are you from?

Jose: Soy de Houston, Texas. 

I am from Houston, Texas.

Juan: Pero, ¿Dónde nació usted?

But where were you born?

*Where are you originally from?

Jose: Yo nací en Mexico.

 
When translate into English this can mean, “where are you from originally?”

 

7. ¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?

Another common way of asking someone where they are from is to ask which country they are from. You can ask someone this question when you want to know the exact location of their origin

The literal translation of this is “Which is your nationality?”

Qué’ (what) and ‘cuál (which) are common interrogatives (question words) in Spanish. Like in English, their appropriate use can be confusing. 

You should use ‘qué’ when you ask for a definition of something and ‘cuál’ when there are multiple responses to a question. 

As someone could be from a variety of countries, you must use ‘cuál.’

In English, this will still translate as “what.”

You can use this question when you first meet someone or after you have met them a few times. Both are fine and it is not offensive. 

Most Spanish speakers will appreciate this question because there are 20 countries where Spanish is the national language. 

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?

Hi, where are you from?

Jose: Soy venezolano.

I am Venezuelan.

 
When you respond to this question you need to state your nationality. Jose replies to Juan by saying I am ‘soy venezolano’ (venezuelan). 

Although this can be translated as “where are you from?” you cannot answer “I am from ‘soy de’” because the question requires you to answer with a nationality. 

 

8. ¿Cuál es su nacionalidad?

Here is the formal way to ask someone where they are from and what their nationality is at the same time. 

Again we must use ‘cuál’ because the person you are speaking with could respond with multiple answers. 

Notice that the question says ‘su’ and not ‘tu.’ You must say ‘su’ because this is a question for a formal situation, an unknown person, a person in power, or a role requiring respect. 

“Su” lets you know that the question is being used with ‘usted.’ Here, the only indicator is ‘su.’ 

So when you want to ask someone formally you must include it. 

‘¿Cuál es su nacionalidad?’ and ‘¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?’ Both mean “where are you from?” and “what is your nationality?”

Here is an example using this.

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿Cuál es su nacionalidad?

Hi, where are you from?

Jose: Soy Mexicano.

I am Mexican.

 

9. ¿De qué país vienes?

Here is a variation of ‘¿Cuál es tu nacionalidad?’ combined with ‘¿De dónde vienes?’ You can use this to ask someone about the country they come from. 

It is okay to use this when you first meet someone and it literally translates into “From what country do come?”

Here you can use ‘qué’ instead of ‘cuá’l because you know the person will answer with a singular answer. When you ask this question with ‘cuál’ it does not make sense. 

The phrase is to use ‘qué’ although there are multiple possibilities. You are not asking about all of the possibilities, only the one country the person comes from. 

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿De qué país vienes?

Hi, which country are you from?

Jose: Vengo de Mexicano.

I’m from Mexico.

*I come from Mexico.

 

10. ¿De qué país viene usted?

Saying this is the same as ‘¿De qué país vienes?’ The only difference is the formality of the situation. 

Please note that as mentioned above we must include ‘usted’ (formal you) at the end of the sentence. If you do not the person you are speaking to can confuse the subject for ‘el’ (he) instead of ‘usted’ (formal you). 

Example:

Juan: Hola, ¿De qué país viene usted?

Hi, which country are you from?

*Hi, where are you from?

Jose: Vengo de Colombia.

I’m from Colombia.

*I come from Colombia.