Danish Language Blog

Asking about Origins Posted by on Sep 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

(Photo courtesy of Amy the Nurse at Flickr, CC License.)

Hvor kommer du/I fra? (Where do you/you guys come from?) Some people don’t like this question, but as a tourist it’s hard to avoid the natives’ curiosity. 🙂 When asked in a friendly way, it can be a genuine icebreaker… Let’s look at origins.

The easiest way to reply is, of course, by means of the preposition fra (from), followed by a stednavn [steth naoon] (place name):

Vi kommer fra Hørning. (We come from Hørning.)

Jeg er fra Amager. (I’m from Amager.)

Often, the accent will reveal which part of the country a Dane is from! 🙂 (Hint: People in the capital area usually talk faster than people from Jutland.)

Lande (countries) are easy, but of course not always the same as in English. Especially European countries have different names in Danish, due to different traditions:

Jeg er fra Danmark, Sverige, Norge, Island, Færøerne (Faroe Islands), Finland…

…Tyskland (Germany), Frankrig, Holland, Storbritannien (Great Britain), Irland

… Spanien, Italien, Grækenland (Greece), Cypern [K-] (Cyprus), Tyrkiet

… Polen, Tjekkiet (Czech Republic), Ungarn (Hungary), Rusland (Russia)

… Japan, Kina, Korea, Indien, Filippinerne

… Indonesien, Australien, New Zealand, Fiji

… Sydafrika (South Africa), Kenya, Nigeria, Congo, Elfenbenskysten (Côte d’Ivoire), Madagaskar

… Egypten, Saudi-Arabien, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Syrien

…USA [oo es ah], Canada, Mexico, Grønland, Cuba, Jamaica [sha-]

Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brasilien


You can naturally also drop the fra and replace the country by an adjective if you feel like it:

Jeg er dansk, svensk, norsk, islandsk, færøsk, finsk…

…tysk, fransk, hollandsk, britisk, irsk

…spansk, italiensk, græsk, cypriotisk, tyrkisk

…polsk, tsjekkisk, ungarsk, russisk

…japansk, kinesisk, koreansk, indisk, filippinsk

…indonesisk, australsk, newzealandsk, fijiansk

…sydafrikansk, kenyansk, nigeriansk, congolesisk, ivoriansk, madagaskisk

…egyptisk, saudiarabisk, iransk, israelsk, pakistansk, syrisk

…amerikansk, canadisk, mexicansk, grønlandsk, cubansk, jamaicansk

…peruansk, chilensk, argentinsk, brasiliansk


(Did you notice all the nice -sk, -sk?) This is also a good option if you consider yourself part of a stateless ethnicity: samisk, kurdisk (Sami, Kurdish)

In case you don’t like the question, here are some things to answer:

Jeg har boet flere forskellige steder. Nu bor jeg i Rom. (I’ve been living in various different places. Now I live in rome.)

Jeg er verdensborger. Hvad med dig? (I’m a world citizen. How about you?)

Det ved jeg ikke. Hvor kommer du fra? (Don’t know. Where do you come from?)

Do you think it is okay or rude to ask people where they come from? Share your comments with the other readers below. 🙂

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.