Go to the homepage of this German Course Chapter 2: Talking about yourself University of Portsmouth
2.1 Where are you from?

Click here to listen to the phrases!Having asked how somebody is and what their name is, you will then want to find out where they come from. There are two main phrases that you can employ for this. (You can listen to them by clicking on the sound icon.)

Where are you from? I'm from...
Woher kommen Sie
Woher kommst du?
ich komme aus...
(Literally: "Where do you come from?")
Woher sind Sie
Woher bist du?
ich bin aus...
(Literally: "Where are you from?")

Click here to listen to the phrases!You might wish to ask somebody where they live. There is one main phrase for this, but remember to distinguish between the "Sie" and "du" forms depending on the person to whom you are talking! Click on the sound icon to hear these phrases.

Where do you live? I live in...
Wo wohnen Sie
Wo wohnst du?
ich wohne in...
(Literally: "Where do you live?")

1. You may have noticed that there are different words for "where" in German. "Woher" means "from where", whereas "wo" is the word which is used when no movement is involved. In subsequent chapters we shall also encounter "wohin" which means "to where":

2. Note the word order in German when a question is being asked. The question word comes first, followed by the verb and then the subject of the sentence. We have now met several examples of this:

  • "Wie geht es Ihnen?" (= "How are you?")
  • "Wie heißt du?" (= "What is your name?")
  • "Wie ist Ihr Name?" ("What is your name?")
  • "Woher kommst du?" ("Where do you come from?")
  • "Wo wohnen Sie?" ("Where do you live?")
  • "Wie schreibt man das?" (= "How do you write that?")
  • "Wie buchstabiert man das?" (= "How do you spell that?")

Present tense of German verbs (2)
You will have noted that the verbs "wohnen" (= "to live") and "kommen" (= "to come") used above have the same endings as "heißen" in the previous chapter. To help you get used to a difficult part of German grammar, we will reproduce the present tense of these verbs in full below:

ich wohne I live
du wohnst
Sie wohnen
You live
er/sie/es wohnt He/she/it lives
wir wohnen We live
ihr wohnt
Sie wohnen
You live
sie wohnen They live

Information 1. Note that the present tense of a German verb has two possible English translations, e.g. "er wohnt" could either mean "he lives"or "he is living" depending on context. Unlike English, German has no separate form to indicate continuing action.

2. You may also have noted that the endings for the "wir", "sie" (plural) and "Sie" forms are the same for all verbs. Helpfully, in regular verbs their verb form will be exactly the same as the infinitive.

ich komme I come
du kommst
Sie kommen
You come
er/sie/es kommt He/she/it comes
wir kommen We come
ihr kommt
Sie kommen
You come
sie kommen They come

Note however that the verb "kommen" is only a regular verb in the present tense. In the vast majority of other German tenses it is irregular and its various forms need to be learned off by heart!

Test yourself!
You can test yourself on the present tense of the verb "kommen" by clicking on the bar below:

Weiter!Chapter 2.2: Cities and countries

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