I got this question: What names are most common in your hometown?

My answer:

There are traditional names like "Jake", "Jacob" and "Holmes", but they are used across the whole country, and there are no special names for each city.

How to answer this in a more idiomatic way? Also, I wonder whether the meaning which I want to convey is clear enough.


I would answer. "Names like Bob and Jane are very common in my town. Names are usually used countrywide, and there are not really any special names for each city." (Native English Speaker)


If the OP wants to say that the names of girls and boys are the same throughout his or her country, they can write something like this:

The most common names in my hometown, and in Italy, are: Lorenzo, Tommaso, and Matteo for boys while Elena, Sofia, and Chiara are the most common for girls.


In Italy, some names are more common in some regions than in others. For example, Antonio, Salvatore and Maria are more common in Naples and in the south of Italy than in the north.

The question in the exercise/test only asked "What names are most common…?", NOT What boys' names are most common…? or What girls' names…?, it would be an error to write the names of only boys as the OP had done.


The question is quite odd, in part because the country is not specified. The answer is dependent on the country: for example, Switzerland, with four official languages, is likely to elecit a different answer than Norway.

Nor is sex specified. The examples are all traditional names for males in English speaking countries. Is that intentional?

And finally, at least today in English-speaking countries, Holmes is a relatively uncommon surname and only rarely used as a first name. Similarly, Jacob is a not a particularly common first name, and Jake is almost invariably a nickname (for Jacob) rather than a true first name. Thus, the examples make no sense in an English speaking country.

The temptation is to try to answer some sensible interpretation of the question about first names. But of course the question actually posed by the OP is whether the suggested answer is idiomatic. Yes, the proposed answer is idiomatic but verbose and non-responsive.

A less verbose version might be

The most common first names are determined nationally rather than by municipality.

That may be true or not true of any particular nation, but it is a less verbose rendering of the OP's suggested answer, which, to repeat, is idiomatic.

A responsive answer might be

The most common first names in my hometown seem the same as nationally.

Whether this is true or not depends on the hometown, but we are not concerned with that question. Moreover, this is a responsive answer only if the names referred to are understood by questioner and responder. For example, if I, a native of the US, asked the proposed question of a native of Uzbekistan, the proposed answer would be idiomatic, succinct, and utterly uninformative.

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