What is meant by (I come from) in the following sentence:

  • I come from Canada, but my parents are Chinese.

Does it mean that the speaker (was born in Canada), or that (he has the Canadian nationality), or it simply means that (he arrived from Canada)?


"Come from" means your origin.

By itself,

I come from Canada.

typically means only #1 or #2:

  • Yes: 1. I was born in Canada.
  • Yes: 2. I am a Canadian citizen.
  • No: 3. I am arriving from Canada.

With the context that "my parents are Chinese", the first part of the sentence should have the same idea -- national origin (nationality) or citizenship.

Why not #3?

It is an idiom that "(a person) comes from (a place)" typically refers to their place of origin.

For other meanings, such as immediate arrival, you might hear a different form of the verb "to come":

  • She is coming all the way from the city, so she'll probably be late for dinner.

--- The Free Dictionary

  • I am coming from Halifax.
  • I am coming from work.
  • A letter is coming from the judge.
  • A letter came from the killer.
  • That toy came from the toy store.

You will generally not hear:

  • No: I come from work.

Work is not the place where you live, or your origin.

  • No: I am from Japan, but I come from Halifax.

If you mean you are arriving from Halifax, the "-ing" verb means something that is happening right now, so this is correct:

  • Yes: I am from Japan, but I am coming from London to attend the conference.

  • Yes: I am from Japan, but I am arriving from London.


In English, you can often create an exception.

Here is a very rare case where you might say "I come from work".

Remember, this is not ok:


Alice: This is a great party! Where were you before this?

Bob: I come from work.

(It should be "I came from work.")

If it is a regular occurrence, then where you were immediately before might be thought of as your origin.


Alice: Why are you always late to our regular appointment, every Wednesday?

Bob: I come from work, and the traffic is terrible.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.