How to ask about chinese firstname?


What is your name /fullname/? - 你叫什麽名字?- 我叫李燕 /lastname + firstname/。

What is your surname? - 你貴姓? - 我姓李。

What is your name /firstname/? - [Chinese version of this question? / Or does this question have no sense in Chinese?]

But there are still short names in Chinese, as I know you can call your friend 李燕 like 燕燕. So may be question about your firstname still make sense.

4 Answers 4


Please read my answer to this post Why is there such a difference between "first name" and "last name"?

Actually, 姓名 is almost interchangeable with 名字 in modern time

When someone ask "你的名字是什么?" It is more common to state your full name (全名) than just your given name

  • If you want to ask someone's last name, you can say: "請問你姓什麼?" or "請問貴姓?" (May I ask, what is your family name)

  • If you want to ask someone's full name, you can say: "請問你全名是什麼? or "請問你的姓名是什麼?" (May I ask, what is your full name?)

  • If you want to ask someone's first name, you can say: "請問你名字叫什麼?" (You are literally asking someone's given name and courtesy name. Since most people in modern time have no courtesy name, 名字 could only mean 'first name'. However, as I stated before, 姓名 and 名字 are interchangeable in modern time. people could answer with their full name or first name)

  • To specifically asking for someone's first name, you need to be specific and ask: "你父母給的取的名字是什麼?" (What is the name given to your by your parents?) Your family name is born with you, only your first name is given to you by your parents

More on Chinese name: What does this symbol mean?


I think you just need to know Chinese people will probably tell you their whole name,姓名,when you ask:


The first part will be the surname, 姓, the second part will be the given name, 名。

So, now you know the given name!

The only trouble comes when their surname is double, 复姓, like 欧阳 or 上官。So, if you hear 4 words, the person probably has a double surname, or is not Han.

There are not many 复姓,double surnames, so you won't hear them very often. Look on Baidu, 复姓 。


Two aspects: I think the original question asks whether it is ever appropriate to ask for a Chinese person's 小名, which is more like a nickname, the designation they might use amongst people they're more familiar with. 1). Anytime you ask someone's name, you get their full name anyway, so just the first name is automatically included, generally. 2). But if you're trying to look for how to designate or address a person as more familiar, it is way better to observe the actual use contexts for their 小名 in their actual life, and let that come somewhat organically. 小名 an address that's used in relationships that are already familiar, and not necessarily a tool to inject familiarity into a relationship that is not that already.


How to ask names:

Politely (in the first meet) - 貴姓大名?, 尊姓大名?. What is your (full) name? 姓 -last name,名 - first name.

Causally (at a time you already know the person's last name but the first) - 你的名子呢?, 你的名子是什麼? (You know his last name already but the first name)

Unpolite - 你的名子什麼? (Again, you know his last name already)

名子 is usually understood as asking for the "first name", though many people will answer with his/her full name.

Nickname is another matter. When you ask a person's nickname, the answer can be 小王, 老李, 猴子; or 開開, 小偉, 小倩. The first three are 綽號 (street name, casual name that is used by friends/colleagues who are approximately in the same generation of that person or are older), the following three are 小名 (a name to be used by family members and close friends).

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