“What is your name?” in Chinese

What better way is there to learn Chinese than by talking to those who speak it? Knowing how to introduce yourself is essential, and a simple and very practical to break the ice! So let’s look at some ways to ask “What’s your name” in Chinese.

In Chinese, there is more than one way to ask someone else’s name. And, in addition to asking for the name (名字; mingzì), you can ask for the surname (姓; xìng) of the person when you meet.

Ways to ask “what is your name”

To ask for somebody’s name in Chinese, you use the verb 叫 (jiào), “to be called”. The most common form is 你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme mingzì?). Literally, “You called what name?”

There is a short and more casual way: 你叫什么? (Nǐ jiào shénme?).

Either way, to answer simply replace 什么名字 (shénme mingzì) with the name. Of course, it’s polite to ask the other person’s name as well. «And you?»: 你 呢? (Nǐ ne?)

Example:

  • —你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme mingzì?)
  • —我叫李伟, 你呢? (Wǒ jiào Li Wei, nǐ ne?)
  • —我叫 John. (Wǒ jiào John)

Maybe instead of the name, you want to know their last name or they ask you for yours. Translated literally, the question would be “You last-name what?”, What is your last name.

  • —你姓什么? (Nǐ xìng shénme?)
  • —我姓王。 (Wǒ xìng Wang.)

In Asian cultures it is very important to show respect for the elderly and those who are superior to you in one way or another. In this case, the person is asked what his “honorable last name” is.

It is not that there are more honorific surnames than others. It is the person bearing the name that gives its rank. Note that the respectful form 您 (nín) is often used:

—您贵姓? (Nín guìxìng?)

Finally, another respectful way of asking the name is used when you want to know how the person wishes to be called. That is, perhaps instead of their real name they prefer you to be addressed in a different way. In that case, this is how to ask:

  • How do you like to be called?
  • 您怎么称呼? (Nín zěnme chēnghu?)
  • What should I call you?
  • 我该怎么称呼你? (Wǒ gāi zěnme chēnghu nǐ?)
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Summary of ways to ask what is your name

What is your name?你叫什么名字?Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?
What is your name? (Casual)你叫什么?Nǐ jiào shénme?
What is your last name?你姓什么?Nǐ xìng shénme?
What is your last name? (Formal)您贵姓?Nín guìxìng?
And you?你呢?Nǐ ne?
My name is…我叫。。。Wǒ jiào…
My last name is…我姓。。。Wǒ xìng…

Regardless of how you ask, if your new acquaintance wants to give you both his first and last name, they will tell you their surname first, and then the name. For example, “我叫王李炜” (Wǒ jiào Wáng Lǐ Wěi).

Remember that when written in the Latin alphabet, the names don’t show the pinyin tones.

What’s your friend’s name?你朋友叫什么名字?Nǐ péngyǒu jiào shénme míngzì?
What’s your doctor last name?你医生的姓氏是什么?Ní yīshēng de xìngshì shì shénme?
What is your last name?你们姓什么?Nǐmen xìng shénme?
What’s the name of your Maths teacher?数学老师叫什么名字?Shùxué lǎoshī jiào shénme míngzì?

Take every opportunity you have to converse in Chinese with native speakers and experienced non-native speakers. The reward will not only be that you will improve your ability to speak but that you will make new friends, who always enrich our lives so much.

At Hanyu Chinese School, we are happy to help you master Chinese. With our Chinese teachers who are native speakers, online campus and master classes, you can have your lessons tailored to your needs and circumstances. Contact us, ask for your free class and follow us on social media!

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