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Perhaps this question can be roughly translated into English as "Where is your home town?" or "Where are you from?" But now with the fast and more people movement within China, the question has become a confusing one. It is hard to determine where the man is from? For example, when we say he is a native of Beijing, what does it really mean? I think there may be a number of options.

  1. He is born in Beijing.

2.He is raised in Beijing.

3.He works in Beijing.

4.He is born in Beijing, but now he studies or works or lives elsewhere.

5.His ID card bears the (starting) number that indicates he is under the jurisdiction of Beijing.

6.One of his parents or grandparents is born and raised in Beijing (as in the case of Eileen Gu, the Beijing Winter Olympic champion).

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  • 1
    Same way you'd answer "where are you from?" in English.
    – Mou某
    Jul 23, 2022 at 9:18
  • My personal feeling is that "born in Beijing" is the usual interpretation of "你是哪里人?我是北京人。". Even if someone was born in Beijing and moved to Shanghai at a very young age, the answer to "你是哪里人?" would still be "我是北京人(但是是在上海长大的)。"
    – L. F.
    Jul 23, 2022 at 9:20
  • IF this question is asked outside of China, the answer would be "我是中国人" Jul 23, 2022 at 13:44

4 Answers 4

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It is indeed a confusing question nowadays. For me, it is generally a question of self identity. For instance, one was born in Sichuan Province, then left after birth and raised in Beijing for first 18 years. What will the answer be like? Further he then studied and worked in Shanghai for the next 50 years. Will the answer change? What about asking him after only 3 years in Shanghai?

I assume it also depends on the relationships between the two communicated.

In a nutshell, you could treat the question as referring to place of born, raised and stayed. The answer could be either short or long. There should be no standard proper response. You may even find difference between answers and comments listed here.

To your example question, I would suggest option 1, 2, 4 and some 5 yet each is possible.

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  • I agree self identity is the most important aspect.
    – River
    Jul 29, 2022 at 1:24
  • @River well my answer, to some extent, complicates the problem brought up. Self identity is a large word. My point is, different answers might be presented, concerning places of born, raised and stayed.
    – Maul Seil
    Jul 29, 2022 at 1:43
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Usually, when we use this phrase, what we want to know is your place of birth

You can just answer your birthplace, or you can supplement it according to the situation For example, born in Beijing, but raised in Shanghai, could answer: "我是北京人,但是从小在上海长大"

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  1. 你是哪人 means "Where legally do you belong = Where is your hometown?", the proper answer is to indicate a location, in which you were born, or at which you have established the status of legal residency, whether it is a province, a major city, or a county/town (縣/鄉/鎮/村) - "我是山東人", 我是上海人, or "我是台南縣人".
  • The question "Where are you come from - 你是從那裡來的?" is not as specific as the question above. In general, it asks where is your last stay (in domestic) before coming to town, or which country or foreign local you are coming from, whether it is your hometown or home country. Often than not, this question requires clarification by asking a follow-up question, such as "那是你的家鄉嗎?"; 那是你長大/出生的地方嗎?"....
  1. "he is a native of Beijing" - He was born, and likely raised, in Beijing. He may/may not live/study/work in Beijing at present, or after birth.
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For a chinese, if he(she) tell you he(she) is a native, he(she) born and live here in most cases.

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