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Among one of the earliest questions people learn to answer when studying Chinese is

你家有几口人?
How many people are in your household?

However, despite living in China for years, I don't recall a Chinese person actually asking this question outside of Chinese class. In fact, if we Google "你家有几口人?", virtually all of the hits are lessons for non-native Chinese speakers (except for one Bilibili video).

Question: Outside of Chinese class, do people ask 你家有几口人?

For proof of concept, 你好吗? is commonly taught in Chinese class, yet seldom used (see e.g. YouTube video), so these things exist.

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    You ask such a question only if you intend to invite the whole family to a sit-down dinner party. :) – Wayne Cheah Oct 12 '20 at 6:21
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Actually, very very seldom. If (not when) people start asking me question like that, I would ask back: "You FBI?"

As a matter of fact, family information is usually voluntarily revealed, not asked, unless for certain reason, and even that, very specific, not generally.

If you want to get to know a person better, there is only one way: lots of exchanging information thru chatting. Family particulars, obviously, are included. You accumulate this scattered information to form the big picture about the family.

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While younger people may consider it to be personal information, older generations are more likely to ask this question, together with questions like "Are you married?" "How much is your salary?" etc.

I happen to have just watched a totally unrelated video and a person asked "Are you married?" and "How many people are in your household?" to a person she was meeting for the first time. https://www.bilibili.com/video/BV1bs411y7Se?p=2 at 41:28

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You might not have encountered such a scenario where the sentence is used. It's a common sentence in day to day usage. E. g. If you meet your boyfriend or girlfriend family, they may ask the exact question 你家有几口人?

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This question is asked by Chinese people, but not very often. Such a question is usually quite personal, so it is not exactly used in everyday communication. However, these are some potential situations where it is used:

  • A census official conducting a census

  • A teacher conducting a family visit to a student household

  • A family member of a girlfriend/boyfriend asking you about your family

In short, this question is used when you know or need to know a person and their family very specifically. This question is not used when you just meet a person, nor do you ask it to random people on the street.

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"你家有几口人" is only asked in a census or by police officers. How many people live together in a household is usually not something others would be interested in. Only the government will care.

But it often asked that "你有兄弟姐妹吗?" (Do you have any siblings?) “你们和老人一起住吗?” (Do you live with grandparents?) I don't think it is a privacy issue, friends asking about families is a common thing.

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