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What’s your name? Where are you from? – German Course with Eva, lesson 2

What's your name? where are you from? in this lesson you will learn how to ask some question to peole in german in a formal and informal context, lesson in english. ich komme aus, mein name is


Berlin is the capital of Germany and of course Germany’s largest city. It went through a rather difficult historical period, indeed, after the Second World War, in 1949 Germany was divided into East and West Germany. The Western part was governed by the UK, the USA and France under the name of the Federal Republic of Germany, while the Eastern part was controlled by the Soviet Union and it was called the German Democratic Republic.
Some years later, in 1961 a wall was built in the centre of Berlin, in order to stop emigration from East to West, dividing thus this wonderful city into two parts – East and West Berlin.
At last, in 1989 the Berlin Wall was torn down and thousands of people celebrated the city reunion dancing in the streets. Nowadays, you can still visit some remains of the Berlin Wall and the Checkpoint Charlie.
Today Berlin is best known for its artists, museums and flair. Some of the most important places of interest are Berlin’s Parliament, the Reichstag, the main square, the Alexanderplatz, and the Jewish Museum.

Introducing yourself

After asking someone how he/she is, you generally want to know something more about him/her, for example where he/she comes from.

How are you? is translated by Wie geht es dir? when talking to a friend or peer, and by Wie geht es Ihnen? if your interlocutor is a stranger or an authority. (see lesson 1)

The same distinction is made when you ask Where are you from?
Woher kommst du? or Wo kommst du her? are used in informal contexts
Woher kommen Sie? or Wo kommen Sie her? are used in formal contexts

A possible answer to this question would be:
Ich komme aus München – I come from Munich.
You could also answer:
Ich wohne in München or Ich lebe in München – I live in Munich. 

?QUESTION?                                                                                !ANSWER!

Woher kommst du? / Wo kommst du her?                Ich komme aus…

Woher kommen Sie? / Wo kommen Sie her?           Ich wohne / lebe in…

It’s interesting to know where somebody is from, but it’s even more important to ask for his/her name and to introduce yourself.
To ask for someone’s name in German you say: Wie heißt du? This is the informal expression, while the formal one is Wie heißen Sie?
The answer to both questions is the same:
Ich heiße … – My name is …
You could also say
Ich bin … – I am … 
As an alternative, you can ask:
Wie ist dein Name? (informal) or Wie ist Ihr Name? (formal)
These are the literal translations of What’s your name? to which you will answer:
Mein Name ist ... – My name is …

To sum up:

Informal question Formal question Answer
Where are you from? Woher kommst du?Wo kommst du her? Woher kommen Sie?Wo kommen Sie her? Ich komme aus…Ich wohne in…Ich lebe in… I come from…I live in…
What’s your name? Wie heißt du? Wie heißen Sie? Ich heiße…Ich bin… My name is…I am…
Wie ist dein Name? Wie ist Ihr Name? Mein Name ist…



The whole conversation could be like this:

A: Guten Tag, wie geht es dir? – Good morning, how are you? 
B: Es geht so, und dir? – So-so and you?
A: Mir geht es gut. – I’m fine
B: Wie heißt du? – What’s your name? 
A: Ich heiße Sandra, und du? – I’m Sandra and you?
B: Mein Name ist Frauke – My name is Frauke
A: Woher kommst du? – Where are you from? 
B: Ich komme aus Frankfurt und du? – I come from Frankfurt and you?
A: Ich komme aus Berlin – I come from Berlin
B: Tschüss – Bye
A: Tschüss – Bye

This is obviously an example of an informal conversation with a person you have just met in an informal context. It could be a dialogue between children, teens or young adults. From a certain age on you won’t use the informal register with people you have just met.

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