I am not getting the correct sentence for asking the names of all people in a group. I know their nick names and I want to know the actual name of every person in one sentence. The sentences which come to my mind are:

  1. What are the actual names of yours?
  2. What are the actual names of you all?
  3. What are the actual names of your?
  4. What are the actual names of you people?
  5. What are the actual names of all of you?

To me all of these sentences are correct. In #1 "yours" seems to be doubtful, your seem more appropriate. Are these sentences correct?

I learned somewhere that "you" can be used for both singular and plural. Am I right?
Please do not explain too technically rather explain by what sense they(the sentences) imply.

  • 1
    You should be aware that asking the question you are trying to frame can be taken as rude/invasive/inappropriate/forward. For one thing, sometimes the name that one thinks is a nickname is the "actual name", and by asking in a way which implies you think it isn't a "real" name (there is AFAIK no way that doesn't imply that) you insult someone's name. For another, if someone has identified themselves to you with a nickname, it might be because only family and intimates get the "real" name, and asking for that privilege is quite presumptuous. – Codeswitcher May 7 '14 at 22:18
  • @Codeswitcher I will keep in mind these things. In my case their nick names were like "Bitrex", "Awesome", "Photon" etc. I do not know that these are called nick names or XYZ names. I could not get something else than nick so I used this in my question. – user31782 May 8 '14 at 3:13
  • There is a new trend towards call usernames and such like "nyms", and an older one of calling them "handles". It may be the question that you really want to ask is, "How do each of you prefer to be called?" if you're not actually seeking the name on their government-issued ID, just trying to figure out how to address them. You never know: I went to high school in the county where the hippies went to ground, and a number of my classmates had given names on a par with "Bitrex" and "Photon". And some people come to use their handles in daily life, especially to resolve f2f namespace collisions. – Codeswitcher May 8 '14 at 3:37

Yes, "you" can be either singular or plural.

The conventional way to ask this question would be: "What are your names?" If you were asking only one person for his name you would day, "What is your name?"

(There is a small possible ambiguity if the person has more than one name. Like if someone was a criminal who regularly used fake names, the policeman might ask him, "Okay, so what are ALL your names?" Perhaps I should clarify that while people regularly have first, middle, and last names, we still refer to all of this as "your name". People say, "My name is Fred Smith", not "My names are Fred Smith.")

I'm not sure why you said "actual names" in your examples. The word "actual" would only be meaningful in the sentence if it is necessary to contrast with some non-actual name. I guess if you were asking a group of actors, you might want to make clear that you mean their real names and not the names of their characters in the show. Or if there was a possible ambiguity whether you meant their log-on id's to the computer system versus their real names. But normally, you just say "name".

As to your examples:

1.What are the actual names of yours?

Grammatically correct, I suppose, but awkward. A fluent speaker would be more likely to say, "What are your actual names?"

2.What are the actual names of you all?

Acceptable for casual speech, especially in the southern U.S., but would likely be questioned if used in formal writing.

3.What are the actual names of your?

No. "Your" is a possessive and does not fit here. It is an adjective with no noun to modify. You could say, "What are the actual names of your friends?", etc

4.What are the actual names of you people?

Fine for casual speech, but a little awkward. Probably would not be used in formal speech. Also, the phrase "you people" can be considered rude. It implies that they are members of a class that is different from yours and presumably inferior. I'd avoid this phrase except when you want to indicate anger or disdain. "You people get out of here!" Or, "I'm tired of putting up with you people."

5.What are the actual names of all of you?

That's perfectly good and grammatical. It's more long-winded than necessary, which may or may not be a bad thing.

  • 2
    The OP stated in the question that he knows the nicknames of all the people, but wants their given names instead. They're probably concerned that if they ask for a name, they'll just receive a nickname again. "What are your names?" "I'm Big Red, that's Puny, and Snake is over there." – Doc May 7 '14 at 19:31
  • 1
    If that happens, you can follow it up with "What are your real names?" The technical term would be "given" name. – David Harkness May 7 '14 at 23:33
  • @Doc Duh. By the time I finished reading the question I'd forgotten he said that. In practice, if you asked an American, "What is your name?", I think few would reply with a nickname. But okay, it's possible. And now thinking about it, that part strikes me as curious. EVERYONE in this group goes by a nickname? Well, maybe if I knew what sort of group it was that would make sense. – Jay May 8 '14 at 13:23

Yes, you can be used for both singular and plural. You can ask that way.

However, one way of asking their actual names is asking their real names as this term is used here on FOX NEWS.

There are many ways and here's the one:

What are your real names? or
Your real names, please (a bit informal).

  • Are my sentences 1 to 5 correct? – user31782 May 7 '14 at 16:35
  • 1
    @Anupam They're not all okay. Personally, I wouldn't say any of them. Maulik's alternatives here sound better to me than any of your sentences. – snailboat May 7 '14 at 17:23
  • 1
    These are both correct (+1!). I was actually going to suggest the first option, but you beat me to it ;) I'd like to note that the second option sounds a bit rude/impatient, to me . It's grammatically correct, just not very polite. But I like your first suggestion the best of all the answers; it's what I would use. :) – WendiKidd May 7 '14 at 18:28
  • @WendiKidd thanks! Just want to know...adding please won't make that sentence polite? – Maulik V May 8 '14 at 11:49
  • @MaulikV You would think it would, but in cases like this is comes across as insisting and rude (especially with the omission of "what are" at the start, which is mentally replaced with "Give me/Tell me," as in "Tell me this right now.") The please sounds impatient. I pictured a really strict teacher with a ruler frowning at her students and demanding their real names. ;) It's hard to explain more than that, and I feel like this maybe doesn't make sense. If you'd said instead "Could you tell me your real names, please?" I think I'd have reacted differently (though tone is always important) – WendiKidd May 8 '14 at 19:24

Most English speakers would say:

"What are your given names?" In English, your given name would be something like "John Lee Doe" or "Susan" or "Maria Anne". People take it to mean different things, but you will always get the answer you are looking for. I believe that the given name is supposed to mean your first name (Susan, Mary, John, Greg). We also use the middle name sometimes and our family name at the end. So Susie Lynn Smith has the given name "Susie", the middle name "Lynn", and the family/surname/last name "Smith".


"What are your actual names?"

You all is more common for a plural "you", or even the colloquialism "y'all" is common.

  • +1, but puh-leeze! y'all, not ya'll, which represents you will. It is common only in the US, I think, and not everywhere there. – StoneyB May 7 '14 at 15:09
  • Oh dear, I am such a terrible southerner. I typed it wrong. – meer2kat May 7 '14 at 15:11
  • 1
    That's OK. My college roommate was a Yankee and he couldn't type either - or spell. And he was a journalist. – StoneyB May 7 '14 at 15:11
  • Glad I'm not the only one. Of course, being comparable to a Yankee... :( – meer2kat May 7 '14 at 15:13
  • Well, most of my homies are Republicans now, so the War is over. – StoneyB May 7 '14 at 15:15

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