If you’re visiting a Spanish-speaking country, chances are you´ll be asked ‘¿de dónde eres?’ at some point or another. It’s a question motivated by genuine curiosity, as locals are often interested in the people visiting their city or country.
But what does it mean and how (on earth!) do you respond?
Well, stay put and buckle up because I´m going to teach you not 1, not 2, but 8 different ways to respond to this super common question!
Let’s get into it!
‘¿De dónde eres?’ in English
Literally ‘¿de dónde eres?’ translates to ‘where are you from?’.
You may also hear different conjugations of the verb ‘ser’ (‘to be’), depending on who exactly is being addressed –
¿De dónde eres? – Where are you from? (‘tú’ form)
¿De dónde es? – Where is he/she/it from? (also used for the formal ‘usted’ form)
¿De dónde son? – Where are you from? (as in a group of people) OR Where are they from?
There are also other variations of this phrase, such as ‘¿de dónde nos visitas?’, which means ‘where are you visiting us from?’, or ‘¿de dónde vienes?’ (‘where do you come from?’).
Let’s look at an example –
Un anfitrión del Airbnb le da la bienvenida a una pareja de huéspedes
Antonio – ¡Bienvenidos a Guadalajara! ¿De dónde nos visitan?
Jamie – ¡Muchas gracias! Somos de Boston, Massachusetts.
An Airbnb host welcomes a couple of guests
Antonio – Welcome to Guadalajara! Where are you visiting us from?
Jamie – Thank you very much! We’re from Boston, Massachusetts.
Ok, so now you know exactly what ‘¿de dónde eres?’ and its variations mean, let´s find out how to respond!
1 ‘Soy de’ + country / state / city of origin
‘Soy’ translates to ‘I am’ in English*, and ‘de’ means ‘from’, so the reply ‘Soy de …’ means ‘I am from …’.
This is the most common way to respond to ‘¿de dónde eres?’ in any Spanish-speaking country.
If you’re travelling abroad, you would usually add the name of your country, but if you share the same nationality as the person you’re talking to, chances are they expect you to answer with your state, city, or town.
En un hotel en Costa Rica
Recepcionista – ¡Bienvenido, señor! ¿De dónde es usted?
Huésped – ¡Gracias! Soy* de Colombia.
At a hotel in Costa Rica
Desk clerk – Welcome, Sir! Where are you from?
Guest – Thank you! I’m from Colombia.
En una fiesta en la Ciudad de México
Ángela – ¡Gusto en conocerte, Ernesto! ¿De dónde eres?
Ernesto – ¡Mucho gusto! Soy de Tamaulipas.
At a party in Mexico City
Ángela – Nice to meet you, Ernesto! Where are you from?
Ernesto – Nice to meet you too! I’m from Tamaulipas.
*Erika´s note – both ‘soy‘ AND ‘estoy’ can mean ‘I am’ (confusing, right?) … if you´d like to know the difference between the two, be sure to check out our article on ‘soy’ vs ‘estoy’.
2 ‘Soy’ + nationality
Another very common (and rather simple!) way to reply to ‘¿de dónde eres?’ is just to say ‘soy’ (‘I am’)+ your nationality.
Laura – Cuéntame, ¿de dónde eres?
Aissa – Soy marroquí.
Laura – Tell me, where are you from?
Aissa – I´m Moroccan.
Erika´s top tip – it´s worth mentioning that, unlike in English, nationalities AREN´T capitalized in Spanish.
For example, ‘Mexican’ = ‘mexicano’ and ‘British’ = ‘británico’.
3 ‘Soy originario de’ + place
The adjective ‘originario’ sometimes translates to ‘original’ or ‘initial’ (as in ‘the first’), but in this context it means something along the lines of ‘come from’ of ‘be native of’.
This is a much more formal answer, but you may well come across it in written Spanish and, well, there’s also a small chance you could hear it in conversation, so it’s a useful one to have up your sleeve!
Ivan – ¿Eres de la Ciudad de México también … o de dónde eres?
Gilberto – No, soy originario de Toluca.
Ivan – Are you from Mexico City as well … or where are you from?
Gilberto – No, I’m from Toluca.
4 ‘Vengo de’ + place
This phrase means ‘I come from …’, so you´d naturally then tell the person you´re conversing with your country or city of birth.
Do keep in mind that this is a more ambiguous answer, as you could respond with either your place of birth or the city you’ve lived in most of your life.
A curious fact about the word ‘vengo’: not only does it mean ‘I come’, but it’s also the first-person present conjugation of the verb ‘vengar’ (‘to avenge’).
Maybe that´ll come in handy, although I sincerely hope it never does …
Ximena – ¿Eres de por aquí?
Fernanda – No, vengo de Nuevo León.
Ximena – Are you from around here?
Fernanda – No, I come from Nuevo León.
5 ‘Nací en’ + place of birth
‘Nací en’ is a more specific response as it literally means ‘I was born in …’.
You´d obviously then tell your interlocuter your place of birth.
Manuel – Hola, Paul, mucho gusto. Soy de Bolivia, ¿tú de dónde eres?
Paul – Mucho gusto, Manuel. Nací en Canadá.
Manuel – Hello, Paul, nice to meet you. I’m from Bolivia, where are you from?
Paul – Nice to meet you, Manuel. I was born in Canada.
6 ‘Provengo de’ + place
‘Provenir’ is a rather formal word in Spanish that means ‘to come from’, and its present tense conjugation in the first person singular is ‘provengo’.
It’s seldom used in everyday speech, but it adds a bit of depth that works well when explaining specific aspects of your upbringing, cultural heritage, or characteristics of your hometown.
Karla – ¿De dónde eres, Jorge?
Jorge – Provengo de un pequeño poblado en la Sierra Gorda de Querétaro.
Karla – Where are you from, Jorge?
Jorge – I come from a small village in the Sierra Gorda de Querétaro.
7 ‘Vivo en’ + place of residence + ‘pero soy de’ + birthplace
If you really want to get into specifics and you currently live in a place which ISN’T hometown, you can use a combination of ‘vivo en’ and ‘soy de’ –
Vivo en la Ciudad de México, pero soy de Florida, U.S.A.
I live in Mexico City, but I’m from Florida, U.S.A.
8 ‘Nací en’ + birthplace + ‘pero vivo en’ + place of residence
You can also change the order of ideas and state your place of birth first followed by the country / city / town in which you live now.
Nací en Florida, U.S.A., pero vivo en la Ciudad de México.
I was born in Florida, U.S.A., but I live in Mexico City.
That´s all folks, 8 pretty epic ways to respond to ‘¿de dónde eres?’ in Spanish.
Hopefully you now feel confident enough to give either a short response or a full-blown lecture on your origins and current zip code!
If you´re unsure as to how to respond to other basic Spanish phrases / questions, then be sure to check out our article on all the different ways to reply to ‘buenos días’. Trust me when I say that it´ll come in handy!
¡Nos vemos pronto!