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How to ask someone’s name and do self-introduction

In this video, we will learn the expressions of inquiring other’s name and answering
Victor Kengo Umeuchi: Lǎoshī, nínhǎo.
ZHANG Yanli: Nǐhǎo.
Victor-Kengo Umeuchi: May I ask you, “Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?”
ZHANG Yanli: Wǒ jiào Zhāng Yànlì.
In Chinese, when you want to know someone’s name, you can say “Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?” It means “what’s your name?” In this sentence, “jiào” is a verb, which means ‘be called”. “Shénme” means “what”. “Míngzi” means “name”. When you answer this question you may use, “Wǒ jiào” plus name. And if you want to be more polite, you may start your question with “qǐngwèn”, which means “may I ask?” Qǐngwèn nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
ZHANG Yanli: Jiànwǔ, do you know any Chinese celebrities?
Victor-Kengo Umeuchi: Yeah, I know a lot.
ZHANG Yanli: Well let’s look at the first one, “Tā jiào shénme míngzi?”
Victor-Kengo Umeuchi: “Tā jiào” Bruce Lee, And his Kungfu is superb.
ZHANG Yanli: Well, his Chinese name is “Lǐ Xiǎolóng”. Tā jiào Lǐ Xiǎolóng. Here,”tā” is the third person for male. “Lǐ” is his surname. “Xiǎolóng” is his given name.
Chinese name is different from English name. In Chinese, family name comes first, then given name. Usually the given name has one or two characters, and each character has its own meaning which usually has good wishes from the parents.
OK. Let’s move on to the next one. Tā jiào shénme míngzi?
Victor Kengo Umeuchi: “Tā jiào” Teresa Teng. I have learned her song. (SINGING) Nǐ wèn wǒ ài nǐ yǒu duō shēn.
ZHANG Yanli: Great. I’ve loved her songs since I was young. Here, “tā” is the third person for female. Her Chinese name is “Dèng Lìjūn”. Tā jiào Dèng Lìjūn
Victor Kengo Umeuchi: Zhāng lǎoshī, may I ask you what your name means?
ZHANG Yanli: Wǒ jiào Zhāng Yànlì. “Yàn”means bright colour. “Lì” comes from the word “mòlì” meaning Jasmine flower.
Victor-Kengo Umeuchi: Wow, such a beautiful name.
ZHANG Yanli: We have learned expressions of inquirying others’ names and answering. I hope you can understand all of them and begin to love Chinese.

The video focuses on self-introduction. In Chinese, we use the following question to ask someone’s full name.


你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?) What’s your name?

If you want to ask this question with respect or at a formal occasion, you can say “请问你叫什么名字? (Qǐngwèn nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?) May I ask what your name is?”.

To answer this question, you can just put your full name or first name after “我叫(Wǒ jiào)”. For example, 我叫张艳莉。(Wǒ jiào Zhāng Yànlì.)

If you want to inquire his or her name, you can simply replace “你(nǐ)” with “他(tā)(he;him)” or “她(tā)(she;her)”.

  • 他叫什么名字? (Tā jiào shénme míngzi?)
  • 她叫什么名字? (Tā jiào shénme míngzi?)
  • 他叫李小龙。 (Tā jiào Lǐ Xiǎolóng.)
  • 她叫邓丽君。 (Tā jiào Dèng Lìjūn.)

“李(Lǐ)” and “邓(Dèng)” are family names in Chinese. As you may notice, the given name comes after the family name.

Usually the given name has one or two characters and words with positive meanings, which are favored by the parents, such as “明(míng, bright)”, “诚(chéng, honesty)” and so on.

We are wondering whether you have a Chinese name or not. If not, please think about what meaning you would like to give to your Chinese name.

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