Chinese Basic 1
First contact

Key Language

There are two verbs commonly used to talk about names:
(jiào) to be called is used when asking for somebody's first name or their first and surname. It is not used with the surname alone.
(xìng) to be called is used with the surname only, never with the first name or the first and surname together.
您贵姓 (guìxìng) may I ask your surname (literally you honorable surname) is a formal way to ask for somebody's surname.

The word for name is 名字 (míngzì) and the word for a name card is 名片 (míngpiàn).


你叫什么名字? (Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?) What is your name? (literally you called what name?).
我叫王明。 (Wǒ jiào Wáng Míng.) My name is Wang Ming.
您贵姓? (Nín guìxìng?) What is your surname?
我姓王。 (Wǒ xìng Wáng.) My surname is Wang.
我姓王, 叫王明。 (Wǒ xìng Wáng, jiào Wáng Míng.) My surname is Wang, I am called Wang Ming.

Note: In Chinese the surname precedes the first name. Many surnames consists of a single syllable or character. First names often have two syllables. There are a small number of very common surnames. For example: (Wáng), (Lǐ), (Zhāng), (Liú), (Chén), (Yáng), (Huáng), (Zhào), (Wú), (Zhōu).
To present your name card you can say: 这是我的名片 (Zhè shì wǒ de míngpiàn). This is my name card. Name cards are usually presented using both hands. When you are receiving a name card it is considered polite to take note of its content.