General Question

wildflower's avatar

What's the first thing you ask people?

Asked by wildflower (11177points) August 17th, 2008

I’ve found the first questions people ask when they meet someone new is very different from country to country, culture to culture.
As an example, I’ve found people in Ireland are likely to ask what you do for a living and where you’re from. People in Denmark are likely to ask where you live and how much you earn, while people in the Faroe Islands are likely to ask if you’re married, have kids and your own house…....

What are the typical first questions in your area? And do you follow suit or do you ask something different?

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50 Answers

crunchaweezy's avatar

I ask for a name and their numerical digits.

Randy's avatar

Ditto on that!

SuperMouse's avatar

Once I know their name, I usually ask where someone is from.

Divalicious's avatar

What’s your inmate’s last name?

I’m the visitation officer at the jail

Lightlyseared's avatar

do you have any allergies to any medications?

Usually followed by the lie “this won’t hurt”

stratman37's avatar


wildflower's avatar

@stratman: and you must ensure to say it loudly with large arm-movements! It’s an established fact that this makes English easier to understand….. ;)

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

“How’s your dog? How’s your goddam dog?”

See why here.

cyndyh's avatar

I always want to know what people like to do. How do they spend their time? Hobbies and interests say a lot about a person.

cak's avatar

I swear, it seems like everyone asks, “Are you originally from North Carolina?” It’s like it some foreign country! When you say, “No.” It’s followed by, oh, are you from Florida?
to which I have to grumble, “well, not originally…but I did live there.”

I probably ask someone along the lines of what do they enjoy doing. I’m like cyndyh – that usually is something I’d rather know, first. Then the normal questions.

cyndyh's avatar

cak, so they just skip over two states when guessing? I wonder why. That seems odd.

Btw, it’s good to see you. :^>

Snoopy's avatar

Probably “How ya’ doin’?”

Interestingly, I remember a foreign language teacher telling the class that this is actually a weird thing to ask someone…...that Americans really don’t want to KNOW how someone is doing. It is just the expected back and forth start of a conversation. For the casual aquaintance, we expect to hear “OK” or “fine”.....
not….“well my asthma has been bothering me alot lately” or “my kids are driving me crazy” or whatver.

I had never really thought about it like that before….

PupnTaco's avatar

Name and occupation, typically.

AstroChuck's avatar

“What the f*** are you looking at?”

wildflower's avatar

Get a lot of funny looks, do you, AC?

wildflower's avatar

Snoopy: That is very true – in fact even more so on this side of the pond (Ireland) where people will usually ask “How’re ya?” without even stopping…..they just keep walking!

Adina1968's avatar

Do you have any pets?

AstroChuck's avatar

I think Americans tend to start out by asking someone what they do for a living.

lefteh's avatar

You gonna eat that?

augustlan's avatar

I’m with Chuck…what do you do? It often opens up a line of discussion.

trumi's avatar

Where do you stand on gay marriage?

because I’m a dick.

buster's avatar

Can you spare some change? Do you got a cigarette?

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’m with Chuck, too.. that seems to be the most common first question I’ve encountered in the U.S.. I think you can usually infer something about someone by hearing what their job is. Not always, of course, but I find that someone’s choice of job can give me an idea of who they are, which then can lead to further discussion.

If it’s not “what do you do?” then it’s “have you always lived in [current location]?”

Seesul's avatar

If they have an accent of any kind, I will politely ask them where they are originally from and explain that I am fascinated by language in general. My dad could recognize accents from anywhere in the world, and by region. I privately try to guess, but I never state where I think they are from first, unless they ask me to do so.

I’ve only had one person, in my entire life, pinpoint exactly where I grew up from the way that I speak. I guess I throw people off because I mix in some of my mom’s Southern terms randomly.

robmandu's avatar

“People in Denmark are likely to ask where you live and how much you earn…”

So, um, how much you pullin’ down a year?

Snoopy's avatar

@rob Yikes! I wonder if they ever lie…..?

wildflower's avatar

Did I say I usually answer them? Personally I only tell close friends that bit of info, but you’d be surprised how common a topic it is in DK….guess they’re just a bit odd like that.

robmandu's avatar

@wf… and no, I ain’t danish in any case. ;-)

Snoopy's avatar

Ooops….My last comment should have been @wildflower. Sorry. Multitasking.

wildflower's avatar

I know you ain’t ;)

Snoopy's avatar

and not well, apparently

wildflower's avatar

@snoopy, of course they do, it’s the perfect opportunity to satisfy two very basic needs: bragging and complaining!!

Seesul's avatar

wildflower: all that you have to do is answer what my friend did on a survey when we were in HS. How much does your dad make? Answer: Enough.

wildflower's avatar

hahaha….I like that! But I think mine would be: Not enough!

skfinkel's avatar

I note that on the east coast (New York, Boston areas) the first think I am asked is where I went to college, then graduate school (s). Where I live (Pacific NW), that question is never asked. I think here it’s more like, what do you do—how do you spend your time. You might have been the to same college as someone else, and you would never even know it.

gooch's avatar

In south Louisiana the question is Who’s your mama and daddy?

wildflower's avatar

haha! That’s so cool, gooch. Where I come from, any time young people meet someone older, they’re asked “who owns you?” – a silly twist on that same q.

mzgator's avatar

In South Louisiana it’s….Who’s your Momma? Are you Catholic? and Can you make a Roux?

cyndyh's avatar

Best idea for a cafe name in SE Texas I ever heard: Ya Mom N Dems. :^>

I think that was my aunt telling about that one. I’m not sure if it’s a real place or just an idea she had.

dulcecorazon's avatar

What’s your bank account number, I’m honest. Not ambitious?

Knotmyday's avatar

Can you believe this weather?

Nimis's avatar

Probably also depends where you are situationally (in said country).

For example:
at a wedding—> do you know the bride or groom?
at a college orientation—> what’s your major?

PIXEL's avatar

I go. “Have you heard of the iPhone 3G?”

poolplop's avatar

In South Africa we also start with “What do you do” – and then whoever has the highest status job tends to get to dominate the rest of the conversation. As a result, it is an opening gambit to be avoided, also because 40% of us are unemployed anyway. In smaller towns where one is situated by you “lineage” the Afrikaans “Wie se pa is djy” – meaning “Whose father are you, literally but actually meaning “who is your dad?” is often the start of the conversation.

Personally I go for what are you reading at the moment, seen any good movies/shows lately depending on the setting. This usually moves the conversation along to the persons’ personal interests and that’s where I wanna be.

TheFonz_is's avatar

how was it for you?

mwohahahahahahahah (sorry im bored)

Mr_M's avatar

“What happened to your face?”

Adagio's avatar

@poolplop I like it! “What are you reading? ” or “seen any good movies lately?”. It is possible to gauge a lot about a person from those questions. And if you already know the person well the questions are useful anyway.

In New Zealand it is very common for shop assistants to ask “how are you today?”. It is a question I never respond to unless asked by somebody I know well and know is actually interested in my answer. “Fine” has got to be the word that most masks an awful lot of unhappiness and desperation.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, you walk into mine.”

okay, I borrowed and adapted from Bogey…but it works


food's avatar

Sometimes I ask the person´s name, other times I ask them where they´re from (whether it be state, country, city, etc.)

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