Not all my English language teachers are native speaker, but they told me that "never use I'm FirstName LastName when you introduce yourself".

Instead they told me that when trying to introduce yourself to new people, I may say "Hi, my name is FirstName LastName, you can call me Kitty..."

I wonder under What circumstance I can say "I am ..." ?

Is it informal and incorrect for one to say "I am FirstName LastName" in a face-to-face meeting ?

If, when I meet with my favourite pop singer in the street, I will probably say to her / him "I am FirstName LastName. I am a big fan of yours"

I remembered that they had also told me not to say "I am nickName" when telling someone else who you are on the phone.

  • 1
    Did any of them give a reason?
    – Stephie
    Jan 11, 2015 at 21:01
  • The first thing I learned in English was that "I am" and "my name is" are both used for introductions. (of course after the alphabets!) I feel depressed. :) Seriously though, why would they say that? For sure there are subtleties among the two expressions but none are inapplicable in introduction, unless a native proves me wrong.
    – M.A.R.
    Jan 11, 2015 at 21:11
  • I once was told to never say "my name is" when I could say "I am" in professional situations when I need to make a strong impression. Psychologically speaking, the "I am" shows a lot more self-confidence and presence. But that was in German - I'd guess the same principles apply in English. Any input from the native speakers? Perhaps giving some cultural background (BE, AE, ...).
    – Stephie
    Jan 11, 2015 at 21:20
  • I'd probably use I am to introduce myself, but not out of assertiveness, more because it sounds friendlier.
    – Jon Story
    Jan 11, 2015 at 21:28

5 Answers 5


Never use "I'm John Smith" when you introduce yourself; instead, use "My name is John Smith."

I would agree with this much: in general, using "my name is" is probably preferable to "I am", because there is more to who we are than our name.

That said, I think never use is a bit overly strong, although I wouldn't be surprised to learn a non-native-speaking English teacher was offering that advice. Language teachers can sometimes be a bit stuffy, and woefully unaware of oft-used, informal conventions.

Most native speakers aren't going to bat an eye if you say, "Hello, I'm David." It's normal, idiomatic conversational speech.

Moreover, there are times where "Hello, I'm David," might be the most natural way to say your name.

Suppose you are one of four people are seated in a circle in a classroom. Your name is John Smith. The teacher asks you all to introduce yourselves to one another, and the person to your left begins:

"Hi, I'm David Carson."

and then it continues clockwise around the circle:

"Mike Jones" [uttered with a quick wave]
"Hello." [smiles and nods] "Linda Everett."

Now it's your turn. Follow the advice of your English teacher, and you'll mechanically say,

"My name is John Smith."

Truth is, "I'm John Smith" would have been just fine. Most likely, no one is going to think David Carson is an idiot who does not know the right way to introduce himself.

As I write this answer, I'm imagining myself in different settings, giving my name for the first time.

I think tone can be as important as word choice. Give your name as if you're God's gift to the world, and it can sound either mechanical or pretentious.

Context is also important. "I am..." sounds natural if you are giving your name plus some additional information:

I am David Carson, the marketing director for Acme Corporation.

which is a nicely condensed form of:

My name is David Carson, and I am the marketing director for Acme Corporation.

Lastly, conspicuously absent from your question is the difference between "I am David Carson," and "I'm David Carson." The contracted version can sound more approachable and friendly, while the longer version can sound more stiff and pretentious. That said, mannerisms such as warm smiles, friendly nods, affable handshakes, and welcoming intonations also play a big role in how your introduction will be perceived.

If you're too worried about the words you use, that might have an adverse affect. Just relax and tell us who you are.


I only wanted to add that as an American and native English speaker I have rarely if ever heard anyone introduce himself or herself with 'my name is'. It sounds awkward to me. The only circumstances that I can recall hearing that phrase are when someone is giving a scripted speech to a large group or when a computerized device is introducing itself. In that last circumstance, though, I wonder if perhaps the person who wrote the dialogue was not a native English speaker.

  • I think the “My name is...” gets used often in a group setting. For example, if an instructor on the first day of class says, “Let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves,” I think you’d hear quite a few people starting off with, say, “My name is Jeff...” In a one-on-one setting, though, I tend to agree with you.
    – J.R.
    Feb 10, 2018 at 12:12

I think it's more important not to mistakenly use it the other way when using a title or other description.


My name is John Smith.

I'm John Smith.

I'm Doctor Smith.

Not OK:

My name is Doctor Smith.


You are really giving a salutation and informing your name, but you are not saying anything else about yourself, yet.
In a formal situation I would go with either of these:

Hello, my name is FirstName LastName, but you can call me Kitty...
Hello, my name is FirstName LastName, but (most) people call me Kitty...

While I think "I am" is commonly used, this is more suitable for describing your person. You could say something like this:

Hello, my name is FirstName LastName, but you can call me Kitty. I am a doctor with 15 years experience in...

Informally I think you could go with either my name is or I am.

BTW, I would not use "Hi" in a formal situation. Hello or I am pleased to meet you would be better.
In fact, if you start with I am pleased to meet you, then my name is follows naturally:

I am (I'm) pleased to meet you. My name is FirstName LastName, but you can call me Kitty...

  • I might suggest adding that, by saying "I am FirstName LastName", the speaker seems to be correcting a misperception that s/he is someone else.
    – A.Ellett
    Jan 11, 2015 at 22:07
  • @A.Ellett A grave faux pas. But how then do you discumber yourself of the reproach that by saying "My name is..." you seem to be correcting the misapprehension that you bear a different name? Jan 11, 2015 at 22:26
  • @StoneyB I was unclear. I meant, if whoever you're speaking to thinks you are someone else, then it would be fine to say, "I am FirstName Last". As in a case of mistaken identity, no more.
    – A.Ellett
    Jan 11, 2015 at 22:59
  • @StoneyB Actually, I have introduced myself that way at conferences when I meet someone who I've corresponded with but never met in person. When we meet, I might easily say, "Hello I am First Last Name".
    – A.Ellett
    Jan 11, 2015 at 23:01
  • 1
    @CarSmack Hmm... OK I wrote it differently. Specifically, the my name is part is informing your name only, nothing else. No doubt you would say something else as an introduction.
    – user3169
    Jan 12, 2015 at 0:21

The correct way of introducing your self is, "My name is". Our brains work mysteriously, we are able to determine whether this is a name or a state reference because...

  1. Our brains have lists of words in English that are name references.
  2. We know that when something sounds weird is probably not a name.

However, there are times that it becomes ambiguous... for example picture someone whose name is Happy and he introduces himself saying, "I am Happy". It's not much of a problem when he writes it because names start with capital letters in a middle of a sentence so at least one can know after analysing that his name is Happy. But speaking it... it sounds really ambiguous hence it is good to say, "My name is".

  • 1
    I've known a few people with unusual names where this kind of amusing conversation ensued. One was a friend named Natsu, which happens to be pronounced like "Not Sue". So, even when she said, "My name is Natsu," some people would sometimes answer, "Well, then, what IS your name?" She once had to show some folks her ID card before they understood what she was telling them.
    – J.R.
    Nov 28, 2015 at 11:26

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