My Name in Chinese: How to Find Your Name and Introduce Yourself in Mandarin
To politely ask for an introduction in Chinese, you can say: 请问，你叫什么名字？ (qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?) — Excuse me, what’s your name?
And the simplest way to introduce yourself is to fill in the blank with your own name and say: 我叫___。 (wǒ jiào ___.) — I’m called ___.
If your name doesn’t sound very “Chinese,” however, it may be difficult for Mandarin speakers to pronounce and remember.
And that’s a benefit of learning a new language: You can take on a new identity—including a new name!
So, read on to learn how to find your name in Chinese, must-know phrases for introducing yourself and tips for making introductions in Mandarin.
- How to Find Your Chinese Name
- 5 Ways to Introduce Yourself Like a Native Speaker
- Tips for Introducing Yourself in Chinese
- And One More Thing...
How to Find Your Chinese Name
Use a Chinese name tool
Perhaps the most popular way to get a Chinese name is by using a name tool. These use your gender and your English name to generate ways to say your name in Chinese.
Here are some common English names in Chinese generated using Chinese.gratis:
Simple, right? Other Chinese name generators include Chinese-Tools.com, Chinese Converter and Mandarin Tools, the last of which takes into account your first and last name, gender, birthday and even your “desired essence of your new name.”
The best thing about these tools is that they’re great starting points. Even if you choose not to use the exact name they give you, you’ll likely still leave with some inspiration.
Depending on your name, you may get several translation options. You can combine your favorite parts of each into a new translation, or figure out the meanings of the characters to build your own Chinese name from there.
If you do change up the generated name, don’t forget to double check it with a Mandarin-speaking friend or teacher to ensure it doesn’t sound awkward or have any unintended meanings.
For instance, Chinese.gratis gives 阿达姆 (ā dá mǔ) for the name Adam. However, the Chinese translation of this name is normally 亚当 (yà dāng).
Ask a friend or tutor to name you
If you don’t like your computer-generated Chinese name, your name is three or more syllables or you simply want your Chinese name to be nothing like your English one, you can ask a real person to help you!
A language exchange partner or Chinese tutor can give you a realistic Mandarin name. This is what I did when I started learning Chinese, in fact.
My English name is Brooke, which was translated as 布鲁克 (bù lǔ kè) by the name generators. It didn’t sound appealing to me, so I asked my tutor for help.
She gave me the name 嘉莉 (jiā lì), which means “beautiful woman.” Not only did it sound much better, but I was very honored she gave me such a name!
I don’t really recommend translating your English name into Chinese on your own unless you’ve studied Chinese for a while and are very familiar with Mandarin naming traditions, meanings, tones, characters and so on.
However, if you don’t have Chinese friends or a tutor, you can still decide on your own name as a beginner!
Consider naming yourself after your favorite Chinese movie character, Chinese singer or historical figure. You can also browse lists of common Chinese names for inspiration.
For instance, some common Mandarin surnames are:
Some common characters for female names include: 爱 (ài) meaning “love,” 花 (huā) meaning “flower” and 欢 (huān) meaning “happy.”
Common characters included in male names are: 昌 (chāng) meaning “prosperous,” 恒 (héng) meaning “constant” and 明 (míng) meaning “bright.”
5 Ways to Introduce Yourself Like a Native Speaker
At the start of this post, I told you that the most common way to introduce yourself is to say 我叫 followed by your first name. But if you want to share your last name or pull out a little more Chinese, here are other great ways you can introduce yourself!
It can help to see these expressions in use on a program that uses authentic content to teach Chinese, like FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Pinyin: wǒ xìng ___, jiào ___.
English: My surname is ___, and I’m called ___.
Though the above sentence may sound a bit odd in English, it’s one of the most common ways to introduce yourself in Chinese.
Note that if you just say 我叫, you must give your first name. To provide your last name, you need to use the verb 姓, which literally means “to be surnamed.”
请问，您贵姓？ (qǐng wèn, nín guì xìng?) — Excuse me, what’s your surname?
我姓王，叫李娜。 (wǒ xìng wáng, jiào lǐ nà.) — My surname is Wang, and I’m called Li Na.
Pinyin: wǒ de míng zi jiào ___.
English: My name is ___.
The word 名字 means “name,” so this phrase is an extension of 我叫 that literally means “my name is called ___.”
请问，你可以自我介绍一下吗？ (qǐng wèn, nǐ kě yǐ zì wǒ jiè shào yí xià ma?) — Excuse me, can you introduce yourself?
可以！我的名字叫乔菲。 (kě yǐ! wǒ de míng zi jiào qiáo fēi.) — Yes! My name is Qiao Fei.
Pinyin: wǒ de zhōng wén míng zi jiào ___.
English: My Chinese name is ___.
This is a phrase I personally use a lot, and it’s great for establishing preference.
For example, in university, many of my friends (and one of my roommates!) were foreign exchange students from China and Taiwan. They knew I could speak Chinese and often spoke to me in their language.
At first they weren’t sure what to call me or which name I preferred. I solved that problem by introducing myself with this phrase so they knew that, when speaking Chinese, they could call me by my Chinese name!
请问，你叫什么？ (qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shén me?) — Excuse me, what are you called?
我的中文名字叫李娜。 (wǒ de zhōng wén míng zi jiào lǐ nà.) — My Chinese name is Li Na.
Pinyin: jiào wǒ ___ jiù kě yǐ le.
English: Calling me ___ is fine.
This phrase is also great for establishing preference, and is another one I frequently used with my foreign exchange friends.
It’s especially helpful if you want to explain that you’d prefer to be called a name different than what you used to introduce yourself with originally.
请问，你叫什么名字？ (qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?) — Excuse me, what’s your name?
我的英文名字叫Brooke，但叫我嘉莉就可以了。 (wǒ de yīng wén míng zi jiào Brooke, dàn jiào wǒ jiā lì jiù kě yǐ le.) — My English name is Brooke, but calling me Jia Li is fine.
Alternatively, you can replace 就可以了 with 就行了 (jiù xíng le). Either form is great for responding to the question, “How should I address you?”
Here’s a culture tip: In Chinese-speaking countries, it’s very common for people under the age of 30 to be called 小 (xiǎo) + their surname as a sort of affectionate diminutive (小 means “small”).
For example, someone with the surname 王 (wáng) might be called 小王 (xiǎo wáng) by their friends and family.
请问，您怎么称呼？ (qǐng wèn, nín zěn me chēng hū?) — Excuse me, how should I address you?
叫我小王就行了！ (jiào wǒ xiǎo wáng jiù xíng le!) — Calling me Xiao Wang is fine!
Pinyin: wǒ shì ___.
English: I’m ___.
And if you want to keep it short and sweet, just put your given name in the blank of this sentence. It’s used in the same way as 我叫.
请问，你叫什么名字？ (qǐng wèn, nǐ jiào shén me míng zi?) — Excuse me, what’s your name?
我是贝拉。 (wǒ shì bèi lā.) — I’m Bei La.
Tips for Introducing Yourself in Chinese
Chinese etiquette and manners can be quite different than those in the Western world. Because of this, you can’t always start a conversation the same way or directly translate what you want to say from English to Chinese.
Here are a few tips that’ll keep your introductions polite and running smoothly:
- Default to 您 (nín) instead of 你 (nǐ) for “you.” 您 is the formal version, which you’ll continue using with authority figures and superiors (including elders). With others, however, it’s usually safe to start using 你 after you’ve chatted for a bit.
- Say 很高兴认识您 (hěn gāo xìng rèn shi nín) — Nice to meet you. Just like in English, this phrase comes after both parties have introduced themselves and is used as a polite expression of greeting.
- Give your surname before your first name. This is the natural order of Chinese names: family name, then given name. For example, you’d say “my name is Jones Bob” in Chinese instead of “my name is Bob Jones.” Of course, this sounds much more natural with a Mandarin name!
- To be very polite, ask 您贵姓？ (nín guì xìng?) — What’s your honorable surname? It may seem old-fashioned and ultra-formal, but it’s still used in everyday Chinese. Answers typically follow the first phrase of the previous section, as in 我姓白，叫嘉莉。 (wǒ xìng bái, jiào jiā lì.) — My surname is Bai, and I’m called Jia Li.
- To get someone’s attention, use 请问 (qǐng wèn) — Excuse me. Literally, this means “may I ask,” but it’s used just like “excuse me” in English. Before starting a conversation, asking for directions, introducing yourself or simply approaching another person, use 请问 to be polite.
Introducing yourself properly in Chinese is perhaps the best way to make a stunning first impression.
And with these phrases and your new Chinese name, you’re now readily equipped to blend into the culture and impress some native speakers!
And One More Thing...
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