My daughter was practicing writing sentences from some stories. When I read the sentence below and wondered about sliding into place, she shrugged her shoulders.

Everyone slid into place

I then asked her about the context and the source, and said "what is the story called anyway?"

I know you would ask about books by title/entitle, but honestly I rarely hear people in conversations ask about stories or books with the word title/entitle in their question.

Would asking about books titles by using the word called still sound natural?

If not, what other informal ways of asking about the book other than using the word title?

Note Well, it turned out that people do use call to ask about publications. I remember I used a collocations dictionary but did not find what I was looking for: call + book. However, my question is still about books whether they are stories or not.

Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary


NAME 1. transitive + object + noun to give someone or something a name, or to know or address someone by a particular name

• They've called the twins Katherine and Thomas.

• What's that actor called that we saw in the film last night?

• His real name is Jonathan, but they've always called him 'Johnny'.

• What's her new novel called?

• I wish he wouldn't keep calling me 'dear' - it's so patronising!

  • See this NGram and this one for "formal / informal" contexts. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 15:50
  • I don't think you know what "entitle" means. It is not applicable here. "Entitle" is a verb, you seem to be using it as a noun.
    – Jay
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:10
  • @FumbleFingers Oh, I forgot all about Ngram, a resource I used to check fairly often. Though, I still need native speaker opinions like you. Thank. It is a remarkably lucid figure.
    – learner
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 16:56
  • @Jay I just put the word stem. Sorry I should have mentioned that considering that the site is for all levels of English language learners.
    – learner
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    @learner: I noted you specifically asked about other informal ways of asking. As you're not a native speaker it may not be quite so easy for you to think up "contextualizing" text strings to (at least partially) separate formal from informal usages, but you seem to have a pretty good grasp of English, so I imagine this wouldn't be impossible for you. Including a contraction (book's for book is in my case) is a useful way of homing in on informal usages. (Another is he said, because it'll tend to favour colloquial, spoken contexts.) Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


The most common way to ask for the title of a book or story is to ask, "What is this book called?"

You could ask, "What is the title of this book?"

You could ask, "What is this book entitled?" But few fluent English speakers would say that. It's rather pretentious for almost any context.

  • As is rather in this context, my offspring would likely conclude. (ellipsis of appropriate emoticon.) Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 22:24
  • @P.E.Dant This stuff sounds subtle, touchy and tough but curious I can't say I had enough. Could you dumb it down to a non native speaker! Is there any controversy about rather or is it just a witty remark about the answer?
    – learner
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 3:50
  • The deletion tempers the amicable irony, and the slightly self-deprecating inclusion of a reference to children emphasizes that pretentiousness is entirely a matter of perspective. My Grandmother would have put it much more piquantly: A toilet seat is fancy in a one-holer. Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 3:56
  • Well, I'm disappointed, and ... Sorry, I don't speak toilet.
    – learner
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 18:49

Yes, it is fine to say "What's the story called?" or "What's the book called?"

I know short answers are frowned upon, but you have already presented a correct sentence as well as the reason it is correct, so I'm not sure what else to say here.

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