I have a question about how to properly answer a question.

At restaurants, the hostess will often ask 「何名様ですか」 ("How many in your party?")

For example, if you have four people in your party, is it proper to reply 「4名です」? Or is 「4人です」 better?

  • 7
    Just hold up a few fingers and grunt
    – ssb
    Dec 10, 2014 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


There is no difference between 4人です and 4名です.

You may say the word as you like.

  • 2
    The first result on Google for "何名様ですか" was that only "バカ" use "4名です" (a racist post, so I'm not going to link to it). I'm curious why the writer of that post thinks so. However, I'm not convinced 名 is an honorific; many other answers in Japanese (like on Yahoo) say either is fine, just like your answer.
    – Anonymous
    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:52
  • 5
    I saw the post now but almost Japanese don't think so and 名 is not honorific. 様 is a honorific. If you reply like 4名様です, it is wrong. Sep 24, 2014 at 3:10
  • 2
    Your answer definitely matches with what I've seen used; Japanese friends often say "4名です" at restaurants. It's interesting that one source that user snailboat found says 名 is honorific. Most sources seem to indicate, though, that 名 is simply formal if anything. Thank you for your insight!
    – Anonymous
    Sep 25, 2014 at 0:59

According to the article from "トクする日本語" by NHK, 人 is used when you just count the number of people whereas 名 is more used in a formal expression or when there is a fixed number.


Therefore, restaurants wouldn't ask you "何人様{なんにんさま}ですか". As a customer "4人" is more appropriate since "4名" sounds a bit formal and objective. Although, nowadays people don't really mind whether "4人" or "4名" is used in response.

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