I would like to ask "what's your name" in a formal way.

I want the equivalent in English of "¿como se llama (usted)?" Spanish question.

I think that "What's your name?" is similar to how I might talk to a pet. I want a way to send a respect position to the listener even before meeting him.

  • Please add some context describing the situation where you'd like to say this. Is it written, or in conversation. What is your relationship with the person you're speaking to? Is it you to a waiter at a restaurant? You to a business associate you haven't been introduced to yet?
    – Jim
    Jan 8, 2016 at 16:22
  • 1
    "What's your name?" in English means both "Como se llama?" and "Como te llamas?" depending on context. If you really want the equivalent of "Como se llama?", it would be "Do you mind if I ask your name?" or "Do you mind my asking your name?".
    – user24743
    Jan 8, 2016 at 16:35
  • Why do you think that "What's your name?" isn't formal?
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 8, 2016 at 17:03
  • @Jim, is for a formal job talk.
    – biotech
    Jan 9, 2016 at 9:33
  • @Chenmunka, I can ask "What's your name?" to a pet. I want a way to send a respect position to the listener even before meeting him.
    – biotech
    Jan 9, 2016 at 9:43

4 Answers 4


In a formal setting, it is best to say something like this (while smiling and extending your hand, if appropriate): "Hello, my name is Joseph Biotech. It is a pleasure to meet you. May I ask your name?" There are unlimited ways to express this, but it is always more polite to introduce yourself before asking for a person's name.

  • that's a good translation for "¿Me permite su nombre?". However, it's quite near to the answer.
    – biotech
    Jan 9, 2016 at 9:44

99% of the time, all you have to do is say, "Hello, my name is X. It's a pleasure to meet you." Then, if the person is respectful, she would reciprocate by saying something like "It's good to meet you too, I'm Y." You don't really need to ask for someone's name. I think that it might be a little awkward to ask someone her name and not allow her to provide it on her own.

In the off-chance that the person doesn't provide her name, I would go with Mark Hubbard's response: "May I ask your name?"


In Spanish, what's your name? it's just ¿cuál es tu(su) nombre?. (su for usted and tu for tú.)
¿Cómo se llama? it's literally How are you named? So that one wouldn't work.

A formal way could be: May I have your name? (Adding please, excuse me, etc to make it more polite.)


In my opinion, there is no real formal or informal way of asking for someone's name.

What's your name?

I would say is as close to informal as you can get, because of the use of a contraction, rather than

What is your name?

If you really want to be informal about it, you can use ebonics.

What's yo name? What your name be?

Never do we ask someone what they are called, which is what the spanish, cómo te llamas translates to.

What do you call yourself?

To say that in English would imply that you want to know their alias/nickname/title

We have no substitute for name. Unless you want to get super informal and somewhat objective, you might get away with using the past participle

What are you named?


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .