Basically, I've been corrected on Lang-8 that [あなたの名前はですか] should be changed to [なんというお名前ですか], or [あなたの名前何といいますか].

After a quick search around, I found that なんという means how as in [how [beautiful]]. I figured that this is a polite way of addressing the second-person, but this still leaves me a little confused on the proper way to ask for second-person's name. [何といい] didn't register as a word at all in a online dictionary I've used, and some other members have said that [あなたの名前はですか] is completely fine!

Could someone demystify this mess please?

  • 5
    Native speaker here. No one has ever -- not even once in my long life -- asked me for my name by using the pronoun あなた. I know this would surprise Japanese learners, but someone has got to tell the truth sometime. Mar 8 '15 at 14:48
  • 5
    l'electeuer, I was asked my name by being called "あなた”, by police, haha, when I "toured" like a freak on the highway about 90-100 miles an hour to pass any cars on the road and finally got caught. "あなた,お名前は?”. Of course, the police is soo furious. haha.
    – user7644
    Mar 8 '15 at 15:23
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    @l'électeur How do you feel about saying "私の名前は太郎です。あなたのお名前は何ですか" on an online forum? Maybe you've never been addressed with あなた in person, but how often have you read あなた in an ad, trying to capture your attention and draw you into a (one way) conversation?
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 9 '15 at 11:38

Your sentence, あなたの名前はですか、 is both grammatically incorrect and rather rude (once fixed) as well. As Earthling said, to make it grammatically correct, you need to add [何]{なん} → 名前は何ですか

The impolite part is the use of the pronoun あなた; Japanese learners are best to avoid this word -- as well as other second-person pronouns -- until they know when to use it and when not to use it.

Typical ways of asking for somebody's name are:




Note that I'm using お名前 rather than 名前 or あなたの名前; the お prefix makes the word 'honorific', which in practice means that the word translates to 'your name'.

On second thought, it is fine to use あなた in a blog (?) post like that, when you are talking to a reader in a one-way conversation. Textbooks use it all the time. Most learners, however, aren't writing one-way conversations, so the common advice still stands.

(I assume lang-8 is closer to a blog than to a forum.)

  • How could it be rude when the phrase makes no sense? Mar 23 '15 at 7:04
  • @l'électeur I think you are being obtuse on purpose
    – oals
    Mar 23 '15 at 15:55

What you wrote is grammatically not correct. So far you have

your name

[topic particle] (not to be translated in English)

[copula] is

[question particle] ?

In other words, what you wrote translates to

[big unfilled gap] is your name?

You want to fill the gap with "what", in Japanese 何{なん} to give you

What is your name?

The other way suggested to you means something like

How do you say your name? or How do you call your name?

That said, what you said might work on an internet forum, but in face-to-face conversation the more common way to say "What is your name?" is お名前は何ですか.


なんという is the plain form of なんといいます.

if taken literally, it means "how is it said"

so it's like saying "how is your name said?"

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