Should I say I'm born in or I was born in?

Can I say I'm born in Paris in 1900, or should I say I was born in Paris in 1990?

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    "I am born" is the first line of Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield. When he wrote that line, however, he was using the narrative present: First line of book = first day of life for David Copperfield = the character DC is born. Otherwise, it's idiomatic to say "I was born..." You can say "I'm from Paris" if you were born there but don't live there now, but it's strange to say "I'm born in Paris in 1990" (1900 is virtually impossible for all intents and purposes today).
    – user264
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 3:49

2 Answers 2


"I was born in Paris in 1990" is the correct statement to use.

"I'm" is a condensed form of "I am" which is present tense, as you are talking about a past event "I was" is used.

  • Present tense would never be used to talk about someone's birth? I always did til today Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 2:39
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    @JonathandeM.- Sometimes it is but it's when the birth is happening now, not in the past.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 2:43
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    @JonathandeM: In particular "I am born" will pretty much always be wrong (except perhaps in a 3rd person autobiographical narrative), but certainly in normal life, "I am born" is always wrong.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 3:37
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    @Matt "I am born" could also be used in a metaphorical sense--"I am born again" after a spiritual awakening or some such event. But yes, as people cannot talk at the moment of their birth, it's unlikely to say "I am born" in the literal sense ;) +1 to your comment!
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 4:40
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    I am always struggling with this, since (in my home languages, Afrikaans) we sometimes use the present tense for life changing events. E.g. (directly translated from afrikaans): I am in born in 1990. I am married in 2013. Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 9:10

"I was born" - since this is a passive form. The mother bears the child, and when she brings him/her (it, in British English, by the way) forth, the child is said to be born.

The active verb "nascere/nascer/naître" is replaced by this passive, semantically equivalent to "my mother has born me", in English, German - ich bin geboren (worden) - and other languages.

  • my mother has birthed me, perhaps?
    – jimsug
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 0:01
  • It's a passive form, but used with the "to be" in the present in many, many, many languages.
    – Quidam
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 9:16

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