For the last couple of weeks on our Conversational Italian! Facebook group, we have been discussing how to ask and answer the question, “Where are you from?” in Italian. It is a bit complicated, but what I always recommend is just to remember how the question will be asked and the answer in Italian as it applies to you!
Here is a summary of this topic, adapted from the “Grammar Note” in Chapter 2 of our textbook, Conversational Italian for Travelers ©2012, discounted on Learn Travel Italian.com.
Describing Where You Are From
One of the questions most frequently asked of travelers during polite conversation is, “Where are you from?” Two phrases can be used to ask this question in Italian. There are subtle differences in the meaning of these two questions, and in the reply for each.
The first phrase uses the combination:
di + dove + essere = from + where + to be
This phrase is most often used to inquire about an individual’s place of birth. In Italian, when the verb to be (essere) is used, the idea of “from” is expressed with di, as in, “From where are you?” In proper English, of course, we would say, “Where are you from?” The answer in Italian will also use di and will be followed by the town of one’s birth. Notice that the subject pronoun io (I) is usually left out of the answer, as it is understood from the ending of the verb.
|Di dov’è Lei?||Where are you (polite) from?|
|Di dove sei?||Where are you (familiar) from?|
|Sono di Chicago.||(I) am from Chicago.|
The second phrase uses the combination:
Da + dove + venire = from + where + to come
This phrase uses the action verb venire and is usually used in conversation when someone is visiting or has moved to a new place. The reply will use the io form of venire, which is vengo, and da for “from,” followed by a city, town, region/state, or country.
Also, remember that when speaking of a region, state, or country, the Italian definite article (il, lo, la, l’, gli) must be used. The preposition da is then combined with the definite article to make dal, dallo, dall’, dalla, or dagli, which means “from the.”
For now, don’t worry about these rules. Just look up and remember the correct way to say where you are living in case you are asked!
|Da dove viene?
Da dove vieni?
|Where do you come from? (polite)
Where do you come from? (familiar)
|Vengo dall’America.||(I) come from America./I am from America.|
|Vengo dagli Stati Uniti.||(I) come from the United States.|
|Vengo dall’Illinois.||(I) come from Illinois.|
|Vengo dalla California.||(I) come from California.|
|Vengo dal New Jersey.||(I) come from New Jersey.|
|Vengo da Chicago.||(I) come from Chicago.|