Why not 我姓叫李?

  • 3
    Not a Chinese answer, but you actually get the same idea in English. “I am called John”, “My surname is Smith”. Not, “My surname is called Smith”.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 4, 2020 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


From my answer to this question: Why is there such a difference between "first name" and "last name"?

"你姓什么?" - the noun '姓' here is acting like a verb (is family-named)


We only use 名字 as a noun, therefore we need a verb '是'(is) or '叫'(called) when asking what is someone's name. e.g. "你的名字是什么" or "你的名字叫什么"

When you say "我姓李", the word "姓" is acting like a verb

"我[姓]李" = "I [am family-named] Lee"

When you say 我名字叫李小龍, 名字 cannot only be treated as a noun, not a verb, therefore you need to add a verb '是'(is) or '叫'(called)

From another related post: What happens when you use the individual characters in 姓氏 and 名字?*

For example:

曹操 Cao Cao

姓:曹 (is last-named: Cao)

名:操 (is first-named:Cao)

字:孟德 (is courtesy-named: Meng Deo)

When you use just 名 instead of 名字 , you can omit "叫" and treat "名" like a verb, and say "我姓曹名操" instead of "我姓曹, 名字叫操"

The reason for omitting "叫" is: "名" (is first-named) already acting as a verb, the verb "叫" (is called) is redundant

  • If you wish to formally introduce yourself, it's -- 我名字和姓氏是。。。。。(姓氏 means family / clan name) Mar 5, 2020 at 3:37
  • So, can I say 我名操?
    – IC_
    Mar 5, 2020 at 15:06
  • No, 姓曹名操 have to be together.
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 5, 2020 at 19:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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