Say it in German 2: New Words
Where do you come from?


Say it in German - the new German short lessons for absolute beginners. Before you go through this short lesson, you should have learned the first sequel.

What do you have to say to someone if you want to ask him or her where he or she comes from? Here comes the answer.

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    German text     English translation
1. Question: Woher kommen Sie? (polite form)   Where do you come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] ['kɔmən] [zi:]   Literally: Where from come you?
  Answer: Ich komme aus ... .   I come from ... .
    ç] ['kɔmə] [aus]    


In order to be able to form further sentences, we repeat once again the nominative forms of the personal pronouns. In the following sentences, every personal pronoun is the subject in the respective sentence. That is why we have to use the nominative form.

Form German Phonetic Script English Subject Form
1. person singular ich ç] I
1. person singular (familiar) du [du:] you
3. person singular er [e:ɐ] he
3. person singular sie [zi:] she
3. person singular es [ɛs] it
1. person plural wir [vi:ə] we
2. person plural (familiar) ihr [i:ə] you
3. person plural sie [zi:] they
polite form (singular + plural) Sie [zi:] you (polite form)


Now that you have repeated the forms of the personal pronouns, we have to conjugate the verb "kommen" which means "to come":

Form German Phonetic Script English
infinitive kommen ['kɔmən] to come
1. person singular ich komme ç 'kɔmə] I come
2. person singular (familiar) du kommst [du: kɔmst] you come
3. person singular er/sie/es kommt [e:ɐ/zi:/ɛs kɔmt] he/she/it comes
1. person plural wir kommen [vi:ə 'kɔmən] we come
2. person plural ihr kommt [i:ə kɔmt] you come
3. person plural sie kommen [zi: 'kɔmən] they come
polite form Sie kommen [zi: 'kɔmən] you come

Now we can also ask the following questions:

    German text   English translation
2. Question: Woher komme ich?   Where do I come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] ['kɔmə] ç]   Literally: Where from come I?
  Answer: Du kommst aus ... . (familiar form singular)   You come from ... .
    [du:] [kɔmst] [aus]    
  or: Sie kommen aus ... . (polite form)   You come from ... .
    [zi:] ['kɔmən] [aus]    
3. Question: Woher kommst du? (familiar form singular)   Where do you come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] ['kɔmst] [du:]   Literally: Where from come you?
  Answer: Ich komme aus ... .   I come from ... .
    ç] ['kɔmə] [aus]    
4. Question: Woher kommt er?   Where does he come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] [kɔmt] [e:ɐ]   Literally: Where from comes he?
  Answer: Er kommt aus ... .   He comes from ... .
    [e:ɐ] [kɔmt] [aus]    
5. Question: Woher kommt sie?   Where does she come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] [kɔmt] [zi:]   Literally: Where from comes she?
  Answer: Sie kommt aus ... .   She comes from ... .
    [zi:] [kɔmt] [aus]    
6. Question: Woher kommt es?   Where does it come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] [kɔmt] [ɛs]   Literally: Where from comes it?
  Answer: Es kommt aus ... .   It comes from ... .
    [ɛs] [kɔmt] [aus]    
7. Question: Woher kommen wir?   Where do we come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] ['kɔmən] [vi:ə]   Literally: Where from come we?
  Answer: Ihr kommt aus ... . (familiar form plural)   You come from ... .
    [i:ə] [kɔmt] [aus]    
8. Question: Woher kommt ihr? (familiar form plural)   Where do you come from?
    [vo'he:ɐ] [kɔmt] [i:ə]   Literally: Where from come you?
  Answer: Wir kommen aus ... .   We come from ... .
    [vi:ə] ['kɔmən] [aus]    


We are asking for a place which somebody comes from. When you answer that you come from a certain continent, country or city, you mostly use the preposition "aus". Here are some example sentences:

  German text   English translation
Continent: Ich komme aus Europa.   I come from Europe.
  ç] ['kɔmə] [aus] [ɔy'ro:pa]    
Country: Du kommst aus Deutschland.   You come from Germany.
  [du:] [kɔmst] [aus] ['dɔytʃlant]    
City: Er kommt aus Hamburg.   He comes from Hamburg.
  [e:ɐ] [kɔmt] [aus] ['hambʊək]    


However, if the country contains one of the defined articles "der" (masculine), "die" (feminine) or "das" (neuter), then you would have to use the dative form of the defined article after the preposition "aus" which is either "dem" (masculine and neuter) or "der" (feminine) in the singular and "den" for all genders in the plural. The preposition "aus" always implies the dative case. If the country contains an adjective, you also have to decline the adjective in the dative case which means that you have to add an n at the end. Masculine and neuter nouns, no matter if singular (sg) or plural (pl) are also declined in the dative. Feminine nouns are not declined in the singular, only in the plural. Here are two example sentences:

  German text     English translation
Country: Sie kommt aus der Zentralafrikanischen Republik f sg.   She comes from the Central African Republic.
feminine [zi:] [kɔmt] [aus] [de:ɐ] [tsɛn'tra:lʔafri'ka:nɪʃən repu'bli:k]    
Country: Wir kommen aus den Vereinigten Staaten m pl.   We come from the United States.
masculine [vi:ə] ['kɔmən] [aus] [de:n] [fɛɐ'ʔainɪçtən 'ʃta:tən]    


If somebody comes from an island or a group of islands, you use the preposition "von" which also implies the dative case. Islands are always feminine nouns in the German language ("die Insel"). As those countries which consist of several islands always stand in the plural, the defined article in the dative is always "den". Here is one example:

  German text     English translation
Country: Sie kommen von den Malediven f pl.   They come from the Maldives.
iland(s) [zi:] ['kɔmən] [fɔn] [de:n] [male'di:vən]    


As you already know from Sequel 1, "du" is the familiar form in the singular, "ihr" is the familiar form in the plural. Please remember that there is only one polite form which is used for one or more persons. There is no extra plural form.

If you want to know what your country sounds like in German, have a look at the list with all the countries of the world.

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