Please imagine you're going to know the name of someone very politely at first meeting. E.g. in a party or similar occasions.

In my mother language, there is a specific way of saying the same thing. This is a translation. Please let me know if it word in English? If yes, does it sound natural or it is considered to be too formal?

  • And to whom do I have the pleasure of meeting with?

If it is not natural, then please let me know what shall I say instead?

The same goes with the first phone conversation.

  • And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?

Please let me know if it requires some clarifications.

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    Just a note: it would be "to whom do I have..."
    – user42526
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 13:54
  • also To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking? is enough. So, with is technically incorrect. However, I would only see or hear this in a TV drama like Downton Abbey, most of us don't speak like this everyday.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 14:35
  • @JamesP the point is taken. I edited the thread. Thank you for pointing it out.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 14:41
  • @WillowRex it seems old-fashioned to me too. Did I follow you? Is it a little odd to you too to be heard in daily conversations? If so, how would you ask it indirectly?
    – A-friend
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 14:42
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    to whom do I have the pleasure of meeting with? is not correct because you're using two prepositions - you meet with someone, not to someone, and you certainly don't meet with to someone, and in this case you don't need any preposition. Think about how you would phrase it as a statement: "I have the pleasure of meeting..."? You would normally say "I have the pleasure of meeting you", not "meeting with you" or "meeting to you" or "meeting with to you".
    – stangdon
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


This is considered quite a formal way of addressing someone.

I would probably say something like:

"Sorry, I don't think I know your name."

and then wait for them to tell me.

Alternatively, reaching out for a hand shake and saying your own name "Hi, I'm ..." will work just as well, as the other person will more than likely reciprocate.

This would keep your question slightly more casual and will generally work in most scenarios. I generally use the hand shake approach at job interviews.

On the phone: I will generally say, "Hello, this is ..., I would like to speak to someone about..." and hopefully the person on the other end will direct you to the right place or be able to help you out themselves.

  • 1
    "May I know your name" seems rather uncomfortable for me to say as a native English speaker. I would probably say, formally, "Can I have your name please?" for example to a customer or enquirer at a place of work if I was required to take their name. "What's your name?" works great informally. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:01
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    @MichaelCurry I am in my sixties, and can and may do not mean the same to me as they do to you. Yours is more modern and might be more AmE. May is politely asking permission. Can is saying, "Am I able to get your name?" The answer to can is if you are capable, then yes. The answer to may is, ** if you have permission**.
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:24
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    @WillowRex this is a well spotted distinction, however, I wouldn't say that it's an important distinction in this day and age. The vast majority of people now use 'may' and 'can' interchangeably in every day language (which would include in the workplace.) The only time I would be very particular about this is in a piece of academic writing. In speech, whether it is face to face or over the phone, I think 'can' is widely accepted by a large majority of English speakers. It has been about 15 years since someone has pointed this distinction out to me. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:31
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    @WillowRex For the record, I lived in Zimbabwe whilst I was quite young, and then in the UK since. I think the biggest difference between people noticing it is very age based, rather than due to a place. Edit: I keep pressing enter without finishing my comment Although, like I said, I think it's a very well spotted distinction, but I don't think it's a very important one. It may make someone who is very picky about grammar and language perk their ears up in discomfort, however I don't think it would particularly affect a day to day conversation any further than that. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:38
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    whilst ? Oh there's a word I have not seen in years... It is fun to figure all this out and discuss it though. I said I thought it was age based and I actually agree with you, but I still say, "May I" and not "Can I" unless I mean can. Can I still touch my toes? (For the record, I can!) :wink:
    – WRX
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:42

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