Is it appropriate to ask someone just met have they ever been somewhere? Is it possible to embarrass them by asking that kind of questions in America.

I went to Paris last summer. Have you ever been there?

For example, I didn't travel a lot. If a friend keeps asking me have I ever been to Paris, have I ever been to New York ... I will get annoyed.

  • Where and how did you meet this person? Is the meeting setting somehow related to Paris (in your example)? Has the place you are asking about somehow connotations (eg it is a place related to sex, to having a lot of money, a violant place etc)? – guest Sep 20 '20 at 12:52
  • Why do you have a link to the definition of the word "go"? And why do you think this might not be appropriate? – Kat Sep 20 '20 at 22:47
  • Thanks for the edit. Are you asking this because you're embarrassed when people ask you things like this because you haven't traveled much? This seems like an odd question to ask if you don't travel. Your example (a friend asking repeatedly if you've traveled places) is also different from what you're asking about (asking someone you don't know a single question about their travel experience). – Kat Sep 20 '20 at 23:21
  • I’m voting to close this question because per our help center: We're not here to tell you whether you're right/wrong. This extends to questions that merely ask whether something is appropriate or not. What Interpersonal Skill (behavior you use to interact with people) are you trying to improve by asking whether this appropriate? Why do you need to know? – Tinkeringbell Sep 21 '20 at 9:28

It all depends on context. If you're talking about chicken farming with someone and then blurt out "So, have you ever been to Paris?", that would be seen as pretentious or odd.

If you are talking about travel, on the other hand, that would be a normal part of the conversation.

We Americans, I've heard, are overall a friendly bunch and more willing to talk to strangers than other cultures. Some people are more open than others, of course, and some regions are more chatty than others.

  • 4
    To me (from Texas), it would seem perfectly normal as long as there was some context. If I was talking with someone and they just randomly asked if I'd been to Paris it would seem a bit odd (not necessarily rude), but if the conversation was about travel/vacation/something related to that place I wouldn't even think about it. – Redwolf Programs Sep 20 '20 at 22:13

Travel isn't a fundamentally problematic topic. Still, even assuming this somehow fits into conversation and isn't entirely out of the blue, the answer depends on context.

Not everyone has the privilege of being able to afford intercontinental travel, so asking about travel may have the effect of highlighting a wealth/income disparity between you and the other person. In particular, framing the question casually ("have you ever been to Paris?") suggests that you think that it's not particularly unusual - and thus that you have the money to not be too concerned about that scale of expense, which may be very different from the other person's experience.

Money is certainly a sensitive topic in the US, so in some situations, that kind of question could certainly embarrass someone, or perhaps more accurately, be reasonably seen as inconsiderate or even offensive. I'd suggest being mindful about this kind of question, just as you might be mindful about discussing other expensive activities or purchases.

There are also very rational reasons specific individuals might be reluctant to travel to certain locations. Paris and New York are relatively unlikely cities for this to be the case, but for example, there are at the very least dozens of countries where it would be dangerous for me to hold hands with my wife in public. I would similarly suggest mindfulness in that regard.

But asking whether someone's been to a nearby town, or asking about a particular destination in a conversation that's already about travel on that scale, with everyone participating? That's fine.

  • Or in a course/party related to French language, there it is also fine. – guest Sep 21 '20 at 9:03
  • @guest The rest of the answer still applies there. Especially in courses, where the people involved are not generally financially independent from their families, the fact that someone's learning French does not mean they could easily travel to Paris. – Cascabel Sep 21 '20 at 17:36

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