Is asking "Where are you from?" impolite, and what's your experience looking like a foreigner?

I'm wondering if you thinks the "Where are you from?" and "Where are you really from?" are impolite questions. If you looks like a foreigner in your own country, can you share your experience with me? :) I'm Norwegian and gets asked all the time where I'm from because I look Asian.
Is asking "Where are you from?" impolite, and what's your experience looking like a foreigner?#WhereAreUfrom #PoliteVsImpolite #StandingOut

  • Yes, it's always impolite to ask
    Vote A
  • It's fine as long they don't ask further after getting an answer
    Vote B
  • It's depending on the intention behind the question
    Vote C
  • No, it's okay to ask
    Vote D
  • Other (Explain what and why)
    Vote E
Select age and gender to cast your vote:
I'm a GirlI'm a Guy

1|0
2022

Most Helpful Girl

  • It's impolite to ask: "No where are you really from?" or to just decide to declare "you can't be from there or born from there." Where are you from is such a common question and a means of learning something about a person and potentially forming a new connection because of it, but when you turn the answer into an accusation as in the person must be lying because they look like xyz or since that person has been there one time, they think they know what everyone there is like, it does become more than just impolite.

    1|0
    0|0

Most Helpful Guy

  • Asking "where are you from?" is not impolite.
    Asking "where are you REALLY from?", however, IS very impolite.

    The first sentence is a simple question. That's it. Nothing special about it.
    In the second question, the word "really" implies that the speaker was lying when he gave his original answer (in your case Norway). This is not something that's stated openly but it's the pragmatic meaning of this word. It's the way the other person will interpret the question. And yes, calling other people liars is rude.

    I don't understand why people phrase it that way when there are much more elegant ways to ask a second time. For example I would ask: "Oh okay. Is your mom or your dad from China or Korea? I was just wondering because you have those East Asian features."
    If somebody phrased it like that, you could simply answer: "Yes, both my parents are from China but I was adopted here." This way, you probably wouldn't find it rude because it would just be friendly interest/curiosity without the implicit accusation of you being a liar.

    1|1
    0|0

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 19

  • I would say it depends on who asks the question and what's their intention and context. I've had people asking me this question lots of times.
    Some ask because they are curious. Others ask because they're racist, they are trying to point out that I'm different, that I'm inferior, that I am not from here. Sometimes they're just trying to find out where I live or from what country my parents are from.
    And I also believe that there is people who ask me this, just to annoy me and to bother me.

    I'm sorry you have gone through this. I know how annoying, stupid and sad this question can be.
    But yes, overall I would say this is rude. People shouldn't ask this question, unless it's really necessary.

    1|0
    0|0
  • I never get asked that because I'm about as white American as you can get. but I have found myself asking others where they are from. I really can't help myself most times, it's just a curiosity thing. I love different cultures and love learning more about them. I'm also the same person that will ask an amputee how they lost a leg or how they ended up in a wheel chair.
    Most people that dont have a disability assume that's rude to ask but people that do have them are usually very happy to tell you. I think they can sense that I'm genuinely interested in them and thier story and it's therapeutic for them.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Asking where someone is from is totally fine. Asking someone where they are “really from” is impolite because it implies that they can’t possibly be local, or that somewhere else is their “real” home which may not be how they see it. It’s a presumptuous question.

    0|0
    0|0
  • It's a pretty clear indication that if people speak Finnish here, they are most likely Finnish or have been living here for a while. I might ask a person speaking English where they are from, because most likely they are a tourist or an exchange student and I don't think it's rude at all.

    I look stereotypically Finnish myself, so no one ever asks me.

    0|0
    0|0
    • I can understand people ask because someone else is speaking a different language. But in cases where two people are Finnish and speaks fluently Finnish, where both have heard each other speak it, then one of the Finnish person ask the other one where he's from simply because of the way he looks. Is that okay or not? I think it can mean someone wondering if someone do belong or not belong in that country and sometimes see the person as a foreigner.

    • Show All
    • I'm Norwegian and I speaks fluently Norwegian with a good vocabulary. You can't distinguish my Norwegian and another Norwegian's Norwegian. But people are still asking me that question although I speaks fluently and don't give any cultural signs that I'm not from my country. That's the first question people are asking just because of my looks although I speaks Norwegian to them. Norwegian is a difficult language for foreigners and very few foreigners over 16 years old manage to speaking it well.

    • As I said, they are just curious about your origin, because you don't have the typical Scandinavian appearance, which means that some part of your family is from somewhere else. It doesn't mean they are saying you are not Norwegian, they just want to know where your heritage comes from.

  • I don't mind it and it can be quite fun. People ask me that all the time because I look like I could be from different cultures. Sometimes if I'm feeling confident after a few drinks, I lie and tell strangers, if they ask, that I'm from somewhere else. It's quite entertaining to my tipsy self.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Not so much online. In real life... could be interpreted the wrong way. I personally think it should be OK if the intention behind the question is OK but you have to be careful these days with political correctness. I might ask someone just because I'm intrigued and interested. I know where I have we have a lot of immigrants and some people don't like it...

    0|0
    0|0
  • A girl in uni just asked me where i came from and if I were Spanish today, I didn't feel offended. I get this asked quite often because people find it weird I speak decent English in class.

    0|2
    0|0
  • Totally ok to ask, it's just curiosity it doesn't held any mean intention.
    I personally doesn't look full French so a lot of people have asked me where I'm from (what's my country origin). They usually assume I'm Italian because I have a darker complexion than French (hair very dark while majority have light brown hair).

    I think it's only curiosity, the only stuff annoying is if they ask the same question multiple time cause they forget or straight up assume you have origin from one country and wouldn't listen when you tell them it's false.

    0|0
    0|0
    • Good point but this idea you mentioned when they 'assume'' your this that's not right for them to do.

  • I've had those questions and I didn't think it was impolite, maybe because I knew it was just curiosity. I ask that question also a lot 😂 especially when I talk to a mixed person. Gets my curiosity about his background everytime.
    I guess it's depending on the intention.

    0|0
    0|0
  • If they ask where and don't ask to know more about the country it's values , culture the people then it is VERY rude. If anyone disagrees please look up microaggression and the many forms. The person has simply just tried to make you feel like you're different 'foriegn' in comparison to them. Thanks to the author of this question. Helps a great deal!!!

    0|0
    0|0
    • That makes no sense at all. What if I already KNOW about the country they're from? Last week I was at a university bar and some girls nearby were talking, one of whom had a definite accent. As they were leaving, I asked her where she was from, and she said Germany. I should have asked followup questions? I hardly think so - I lived there for four months.

    • Show All
    • Zagor I do want to know though can you tell me your background I'll tell you a bit of mine and about your time in Germany? please. Germany's inter. soccer team is FIREE!!!

    • I'm American (USA that is) but was over there for work. It was nice as work provided a car and every weekend was like a mini-European vacation; I got to see a lot of the smaller cities and rural areas that I had missed on previous trips, when I traveled by train and mostly hit the major cities. I liked the food and the people, though since I worked with all US people (military base) my interaction with locals wasn't as much as I would have liked. I did try to eat and shop off-base, except for gas which was at US prices, and took a German language class.

  • I get asked if I’m Scandinavian because of my blonde hair and blue eyes but I’m actually from Canada.

    0|0
    0|0
  • that's nothing compared to being categorized with stereotypes like ”oh you are part ○○○ that means you are ○○○” and making rude assumptions based on your ethnicity like ”all caucasians are extroverts (read: obnoxious and don't know how to sense social cues” making an exaggerated accent or even mimicking the porn from the country you are from

    0|0
    0|0
  • I'm from another country. Everyone knows that since I have an accent. I'm totally okay with people asking- I mean why not, it helps everybody knowing more and I get to talk about my life. Sometimes, when I don't want to tell people where I'm from, I just don't, or if they are just strangers that I'm talking to, I'm saying one of the other countries I've lived in.

    0|0
    0|0
  • it is fine

    0|0
    0|0
  • I don't really care, when people ask I say I'm from the Ukraine where my history if from Canada where I was born and Japan where I was raised

    0|0
    0|0
  • I get asked that many times I don’t mind it.

    0|0
    0|0
  • asking where someone is from is ok if you genuinely want to know, like when you can't place an accent or something like that, but some people do it because they think a person looks different or they fit a stereotypical cultural description

    0|0
    0|0
  • I don't mind it at all.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Never impolite

    0|0
    1|0

What Guys Said 21

  • depends on the intention behind the question but i certainly don't find it impolite as long as it is asked in a polite way

    0|0
    0|0
  • I've never had a problem with the question, nor have I ever been mistaken for a foreigner in my country. Or anywhere else I've been to really. Usually, whether it's been Germany, Sweden, France or England, if people have initiated a conversation with me in the native language of the country, though granted with the French it could just be their inherent refusal to speak anything other than French, but I would assume that I don't usually stand out as a foreigner or a tourist in said countries. Once I open my mouth however people usually mistake me for an American, I've lost count of how many times I've been asked the question "What brings you over the pond/Atlantic?" by people.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Whenever I meet somebody new i ask "where are you from?" "London". And if they look English then that's that... however if they are of a different ethnicity or if they don't look English then I would ask "Whats your heritage?" ... I think that is perfectly acceptable and non-offensive... I've never had anyone complain so I guess it's okay 😂

    I think some people take offense to the "Where are you REALLY from" because they were born and raised In Norway, for example, however they get annoyed as people treat them like an immigrant due to their ethnicity.

    Some people who ask the question do mean it like that; suggesting they are an immigrant. However 9 out of 10 people who ask are just interested in your heritage and don't mean any offense😂

    1|0
    0|0
  • The whole idea of it being a "micro-aggression" when you ask someone where they're from is bullshit. People have been asking that question of others forever, and it's just recently that the SJWs have picked up on that question as being a terrible injustice or something.

    0|0
    0|0
  • It’s fine to ask. If I get the double question, I’ll start a long winded reply involving specific countries in Asia and the Maori tribe, at which point they get lost 😌

    0|0
    0|0
  • It depends on where you think the person is from. If you are in a developed western country and the other person looks like they are from a developed western country there is no problem. Just be careful because if they have been in your country for 40 years they may be offended that you are calling them out for being an immigrant and they have tried to perfect your language.

    I would never ask someone from the middle east where they are from tho, because they are subject to racism and it can be taken the wrong way.

    0|0
    0|0
    • I'm Norwegian and been here almost my whole life. But since I'm adopted from Asia many people asks me where I'm from. It's a bit personal and being adopted isn't just piece of cake.

  • "Depends" on one thing: the tone. If you sound mad or rude I'll take it an offense. Otherwise no.

    In fact most of the times, when people ask me that they continue with questions about my culture (dishes, sports, etc) and they seem (or act) interested by it. I think it can be a very nice question to help a foreigner ease up into a group of people.

    People that get offended by that are retarded af

    0|0
    0|0
  • I asked a Mexican girl in my class where she's from cuz she has an accent and she got offended.
    And one time in a class exercise that question was listed as an offensive question along with, "You speak good English. Where did you learn it?"
    I personally don't see how that's offensive, but I no the reason some people get offended by it is because it makes them feel that you don't consider them an American.
    But if you're an immigrant, you're an immigrant.

    0|0
    0|0
    • If I moved to another country and spoke English or another language with an accent I would be fine if people asked me. It just bugs me when I'm in Norway and everyone assume I'm not Norwegian because of how I looks regardless of how I speaks, dress and behave (following the unwritten rules).

  • I think its somewhat rude because language itself always give you away intent. The way that question is phrased infers that the person being questioned doesn't truly belong in said country, you need to read between the lines, its a passive way to racially other someone from the majority ethnic group.

    Of course not everyone asking means any harm but in essence its that's what it means.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Why would it be impolite? Some people are from Cuba, Iceland, London, Nigeria, China etc. Gosh, people are so sensitive these days it's sickening.

    0|1
    1|0
  • If this is impolite, then your sensitivity is too high.
    Listen. People are…kind of stupid. If you’re tall, like me, people will basically inform you about that. Or make jokes about that. It is bothering, but I wouldn’t say it’s impolite the same here.
    People just point out the obvious. Like…painfully obvious.

    0|0
    1|0
  • Not rude as long as you dont make any presumptions in the next moment. Diversity in the world is beaitiful and there is nothing wrong if you like talking about it.

    1|0
    0|0
  • People have asked me quite frequently and I didn't really think it was impolite. I'm more than happy to talk about my background, it's such a special mix of all sorts of things.

    0|0
    0|0
  • I feel it's ok to ask

    0|0
    0|0
  • I don't care and will smile and answer

    0|0
    0|0
  • C or D.

    0|0
    0|0
  • I usually ask where they are from just to know which language speak to them

    0|0
    0|0
  • It is just a question that people ask knowing a person better. nothing wrong with it.

    0|0
    0|0
  • My experiance is that I haven't had a problem with being a foreigner.. lived in the US, UK and Australia for like 12-15 years in total.

    0|0
    0|0
  • Why would it be offensive to ask someone where they are from?

    0|1
    0|1
    • It's depending on the situation, but why it's looked down upon is because then the person that's being asked feels like people thinks s/he don't belong in that country or a foreigner although s/he is of same nationality as the asker. Often the asker is asking further. Often race is seen as something personal. Here's an example.

      - Where are you from?
      - I'm from London.
      - Oh, but were are you REALLY from?
      - I'm born and raised here.
      - Your parents?
      - They're from Germany.
      - Yeah, but you don't look English or German/ *or giving a weird stare*
      - You mean my ethnicity? I'm adopted from Africa. But I'm English.

    • I didn't think that it would be that big of a deal. I only ask where they are from and anymore is up to them.

  • I don't see how it's impolite.

    0|0
    0|0
Loading... ;