How do you answer "What (city) are you from?"

6 pies

Senior Member
USA-English
When someone asks you the question “Where are you from?” (and they expecting the name of a city, not a state or country) how do you answer it if you’ve lived in more than one city? Is the way you answer a cultural phenomena or is it something more personal?

From my personal experience (I’m not sure if this translates to the larger population or not…a Spaniard can tell me) typically when you ask a Spaniard where they are from, they will say the name of the city where they were born. So then I would start asking questions about the city, and it turns out that they moved away when they were 2 and have lived the rest of their life in a different city. I find this interesting because they still say they are from city X when they virtually know nothing about it and really have no memory of even living there.

I was born in a large city because the small town where we were living at the time didn’t have a hospital. I would never say I was from that large city because I never lived there, and I wouldn’t say I’m from the small town because I only lived there until I was 2. I went to elementary school and college in city X and junior high and high school in city Y. When someone asks me where I’m from, I usually say city Y because that’s where I graduated from high school and spent my teenage years. Or I’ll say I’m from city X and Y because inevitably when I say I’m just from city X someone will ask me “What high school did you go to?” and I’ll have to admit I actually didn’t go to high school there.

So, to make a long story short, how do people in your country answer the question “Where are you from?” Is it the city they were born in? The city where they went to high school? The city where they went to college? Is the answer based on culture or is there really no standard?

Thanks!
 
  • Lello4ever

    Senior Member
    Italia - Italiano
    I moved from my born place when I was younger, but if they ask me "where are you from" I answer the city where I live now.
     

    PABLO DE SOTO

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    I am a Spaniard.
    I was born in a town and when I was 18 (now I'm 43) moved to another one.
    If you ask me where are you from I would say the city where I was born and where I still have part of my family.
    Later I would say, but I live in ....(the town where I live) but I must confess that in certain situations in which I don't want to talk much about my life ,I tend to say just the town where I live.
    For instance if I have just met someone and I think I am not going to meet him any more, say on a plane, I say I come from where I live but if I suppose I am going to have a longer relationship I give more information about my life and I say, I come from where I was born but I live ...
     

    alexacohen

    Banned
    Spanish. Spain
    What a difficult question.
    I don't know how the rest of the Spaniards think; apparently Pablo and I share the same view, but I'm not sure if it's a personal view or a cultural one.
    I would answer, too, with the name of the city where I was born.
    More information would only come if a relatioship develops.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    It depends on context. If I am abroad, I'll answer the country I'm from, of course; if I'm travelling to a different state, I'll tell the person the state I come from, because I will assume they are asking me the question because of my accent/ dialect or something which I have in common with people from a larger area than my own city, and also because they may not know where that city is, if it's not a big city. But if they ask me what town I am from, I will reply telling them the city where I was born and then the city where I live now. I don't think it's cultural, but an unpredictable thing. I think I do so because I am sooo pround of the city where I was born that I like people to know that I'm from there. Although I haven't been living in Diamantina for some time now because of work, it's Diamantina I say when I'm somewhere else and they ask me that kind of question ( "a man's place is where his heart is" or something to that effect...), like in my data above. I can be anywhere and move cities from time to time, but the place I am from will always be the same and identifies me somehow.
     

    carzante

    Senior Member
    España - Castellano & Galego
    I supose it depends on the context, anyway.

    For instance, if I have been living in a city for several years, and it's quite sure I will continue living there for more time, I would say "I'm from this city" although I have been born in somewhere else.

    But if I have arrived in a city little time ago, or I am an immigrant and despite of having lived there for a long time I am quite sure in the future I will come back to my country or birthplace, then I would say "I'm from ....".

    Sorry for my poor English :eek:
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    It also depends on local customs. For example, I live in the very cosmopolitan (no, really...) DFW area.
    Over here no one is- wait, scratch that...
    Over here only some people are distinctively Texan (big hair, crap-kicking boots, ten-gallon hat, the whole cowboy look, you know?), so when somebody asks you, "Hey, where you from?" usually we say the name of the town where we actually live at the moment. You see, there's like ten cities all mashed together here under the "DFW" name...
    Sometimes, some people make the distinction, "No, man, I mean: originally?", and that's when we mention our birthplace.
    Or not.
    Often I lie to people. I mean, how is it their business, anyway?
    Me: "Yeah, I'm from El Paso, by way of Canada".

    That's often the conversation-stopper, as many people can't see how that could be true, especially with my very Hispanic appearance...
     

    Argónida

    Senior Member
    Español-Andalucía
    My case is not easy. I was born in a city. When I was 4, my family and I moved to other place. When I was 17 I went to study and to live to other city. Since I finished my University studies, I've lived in five different towns. Now, I've been living here for five years.

    Where am I from? :confused: I don't know, really. But I don't worry about it.

    When someone asks me, I sometimes say: "that isn't an easy question", and then I explain all the story. But most of the times, I simply say I'm from the town I grew up, or from the city I live now... it depends on who ask me and why.
     

    mirx

    Banned
    Español
    My case is not easy. I was born in a city. When I was 4, my family and I moved to other place. When I was 17 I went to study and to live to other city. Since I finished my University studies, I've lived in five different towns. Now, I've been living here for five years.

    Where am I from? :confused: I don't know, really. But I don't worry about it.

    When someone asks me, I sometimes say: "that isn't an easy question", and then I explain all the story. But most of the times, I simply say I'm from the town I grew up, or from the city I live now... it depends on who ask me and why.

    Basically that's my story too.

    Was born in a city.
    Lived in a farm, a family ranch until 3 years of age.
    Grew up in a town and moved back to the city where I was born when I was 15.
    Lived in the city for another five years.
    Lived in random places for a year.
    Have been living in my current location for a year and will move out in two months.

    Where Am I from?
    From the city I was born in, and in which I later lived for other 5 years. If I develop a closer relationship with the person who asks me, then They´ll have to know that I am from that awful town I grew up in until I was 15.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I moved from my born place when I was younger, but if they ask me "where are you from" I answer the city where I live now.
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    To me, this question sounds clumsy as projected onto Russian, except when asked at some meeting of participants from different cities. You cannot just ask "where are you from" or "what city are you from"; the question should be formulated more clearly, using appropriate verbs or adverbials. An additional factor is the absence of copula ('are') in Russian version, which makes this construction less complete so you cannot avoid a precise meaning as 'born' or 'arrived'.

    Speaking of cultural aspect, I personally find this question rather inappropriate when there is no practical need to know that.
     
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    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    What city are you from? sounds odd. How would the other person know I came from a city? Actually I do come from a city and the answer to the question Where do you come from? is that city even though I haven't lived there (except for five months of unemployment) for over fifty years. Why should I deny my roots?
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I'd say "I'm not from a city. I was born and raised in a small town, but I've lived in or near several large cities as an adult." Then I'd list them if the person looked as though they wanted to hear the list
     
    In my country the answer is usually the place of my family's origin. I was born in a big city, but my parents come from rural Thessaly, so, when I'm asked "where are you from?" I answer "from <insert city name> but my parents come from Thessaly". If then they continue, "from which region?", I answer more specifically "from Magnesia". It isn't regarded as an inappropriate or rude question here.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    British people use 'city' less than Americans. I still think it's silly when on the Internet if you're filling in your address you have to enter your village or small town under 'city'. But I'm sure there's no hope that this will one day be changed to 'city/town' or 'city/town/village'. Anyway, someone from the UK would be more likely to say 'What town are you from?' than 'What city are you from?', but, as has been suggested, they would be much more likely to say 'Where (in Spain) do you come from?'
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suppose city has a specific meaning in the United Kingdom - a town to which the monarch has granted a city charter. British cities are usually large (or fairly large) places although there are some small ones - St David's for example. So Which city are you from? suggests that the person is going to say something like Liverpool or Glasgow. City isn't part of a place name like Atlantic City.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    St Asaph has a population of 3,355 according to Wikipedia. So it's the second smallest city as well as being (I think) the latest one. There's always a lot of competition for city status when the monarch's due to give a town its city charter.
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    I thought Armagh was the smallest ''city'' in the UK (pop. 14,500) but St. Davids only has 1,600 people according to Wiki!
    The smallest city in Spain is Frías with just 243 inhabitants in all the municipality of which just 193 live in Frías itself and of those just just 175 live in the city (the rest live scattered in the surrounding countryside). On the other hand Frías is beautiful so if you are close by, make a visit!
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    English
    British people use 'city' less than Americans. I still think it's silly when on the Internet if you're filling in your address you have to enter your village or small town under 'city'.
    You should put the post town in that field, which all UK addresses have.

    And Royal Mail haven’t used counties since 1996 (but web pages still prompt you to put them in), due to counties being mucked about so much that it’s a complete mess in the UK (or England at least) now.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    British people use 'city' less than Americans. I still think it's silly when on the Internet if you're filling in your address you have to enter your village or small town under 'city'. But I'm sure there's no hope that this will one day be changed to 'city/town' or 'city/town/village'. Anyway, someone from the UK would be more likely to say 'What town are you from?' than 'What city are you from?', but, as has been suggested, they would be much more likely to say 'Where (in Spain) do you come from?'
    There's a difference between usage on forms in the internet and usage in the mouths of ordinary citizens, though. I think in the US people would also say "Where are you from?" rather than "What city are you from?"
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    And Royal Mail haven’t used counties since 1996 (but web pages still prompt you to put them in), due to counties being mucked about so much that it’s a complete mess in the UK (or England at least) now.
    They've started messing around with them in Ireland too. County Dublin, technically, no longer exists and has been replaced by South Dublin County, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown and Fingal.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    I suppose city has a specific meaning in the United Kingdom - a town to which the monarch has granted a city charter. British cities are usually large (or fairly large) places although there are some small ones - St David's for example.
    There's a difference between what is formally a city and the word people use in everyday speech. I imagine that people say e.g. "St. David's/Armagh/Salisbury is a nice town". The population of Salisbury is 40 000. Some people would also say "town" about e.g. Wolverhampton (pop. 250 000), and I don't think people would correct my English if I used it about Manchester.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    You should put the post town in that field, which all UK addresses have.

    And Royal Mail haven’t used counties since 1996 (but web pages still prompt you to put them in), due to counties being mucked about so much that it’s a complete mess in the UK (or England at least) now.
    And Cardiff is a county and also a town, so people have to say Cardiff twice.
    There's a difference between what is formally a city and the word people use in everyday speech. I imagine that people say e.g. "St. David's/Armagh/Salisbury is a nice town". The population of Salisbury is 40 000. Some people would also say "town" about e.g. Wolverhampton (pop. 250 000), and I don't think people would correct my English if I used it about Manchester.
    I agree. There's the song May be it's because I'm a Londoner that I love London town.
    Every city is a town (although some people might regard St David's as village). But not every town is a city. People probably wouldn't correct you if you called Manchester a town. They'd correct you if you called Tenbury Wells a city.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    But counties are the administrative areas - Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, Bridgend ditto, Caerphilly ditto, the City and County of Cardiff. The administrative building in Cardiff is called County Hall. Welsh counties are small compared to English counties.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    English
    Rhondda Cynon Taf et al are County Boroughs, not Counties. That said I doubt there’s much difference between the two in practice in Wales, just seems to be a nomenclature difference really, based on names of historic administrative subdivisions.
     
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