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Grammar - What is Your Name?

This Spanish Easy Review grammar quiz will finally test your ability to ask one very simple question in Spanish. That question is: What is your name? This can actually be asked in a few different ways making it a little confusing. The ways this question can be asked is as follows.

  • ¿Cómo se llama? This literally means or translates as: How do you call yourself? [formal]
  • ¿Cómo te llamas? This literally means: How do you call you? [informal]
  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? This literally means or translates as: Which is your name? [informal]
  • ¿Cuál es su nombre? This means: Which is your name? [formal]
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¿Cómo se llama?

This is a more polite way to ask someone their name or, in other words, it a more formal and/or a business appropriate way of asking. A younger person would also use this to ask an older person their name or any person who is considered as a higher ranking person such as a potential new employer.

¿Cómo te llamas?

This format is normally used with a child or with someone of equal social status at an informal occasion as it is a more friendly way to ask.

¿Cuál es tu nombre? and ¿Cuál es su nombre?

Generally when this is asked you are asking for the person’s first name. When you use tu it is less formal and when you use su it is more formal. Although both of these are correct ways of asking a person’s name, they are by far less frequently used by native speaking Spanish people.

When you are uncertain of which version to use to ask a person their name, the most commonly used version is that of ¿Cómo te llamas? and it would easily be acceptable in any given situation. However, understanding the different ways of asking is important as you become more fluent in the language and because you may hear it said in any one of these ways.

Learning to ask someone their name comes with a few vocabulary words that you might not yet be familiar with. These vocabulary words include the following.

Spanish Pronounced (Phonetically) As Meaning
nombre nom-brāy name (el nombre is a masculine word)
llamar yăh-mă call yourself, himself and herself
te te you
se se yourself, himself and herself
tu tu your
su su his, her and you
es es from the verb ser which means to be and means he, she, you and it is

Providing An Answer

Okay, now that you can ask the question you need to know how to answer the question. Again, there is more than one way to answer that will be directly related to how you ask the question.

  • Me llamo es Davíd. This means: I call myself David.
  • Mi nombre es Davíd. This means: My name is David.
  • Él se llama Davíd. This means: He calls himself David.
  • Ella se llama Ana. This means: She calls herself Ann.
  • Su nombre es Davíd. This means: His name is David.
  • Su nombre es Ana. This means: Her name is Ann.

If you ask someone for their name and you use the verb llamar then they will respond with using llama in their answer and if you use nombre they will respond with nombre.

Before proceeding to the quiz section, if you have not already taken the Spanish Easy Review quiz titled What is My Spanish Name, you should check that quiz out as you will need to be using the Spanish names found in that quiz. Do not forget any accent marks that might be needed in either your question or the answer. Forgetting an accent mark could mean your answer would be wrong.

In the next ten questions and/or sentences you will either need to determine which would be the most correct way to ask a person their name in the given situation or which would be the most correct way to answer the question given the situation. Again, pay attention to any names that might be used as well. So if you are ready - then begin the quiz!

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  1. I asked the police officer for his name. How should I have asked him?
    The second and last answers would be used to ask a person their first name but when talking with a police officer, you want their whole name so these answers would not be used here. The first answer would be used with someone who is of a more equal status and it is a more friendly way to ask. It would not be the best way to ask in this situation. The third answer is used in a more formal and/or business manner or to a person who is of a higher ranking. A police officer would certainly fall into this category.
  2. The teacher asked Trevor for his name. How would she have asked him?
    The third and last answers would be used to ask for a person’s first name. A teacher when meeting a student for the first time would want to have both their first and last names so these two answers would not be used. The first answer is more formal and business like which would not be considered the situation between a teacher and a student so it too is not the way to ask in this situation. The second answer is, however, how you would ask a child or ask in a more friendly way.
  3. The attorney asked for the Judge’s name. How would he have asked?
    It would be highly unlikely that the lawyer would only want the Judge’s first name so the first and second answers would not be the versions the lawyer would use. The Judge is also not a child nor would the situation be too friendly so the last answer most likely would not be used either. That leaves the third answer which is the way to ask for a person’s name in a more formal and/or business setting and because the Judge is a person of higher ranking over the attorney.
  4. On the first day of school, the children asked each other their names while in the playground. How would they have asked this?
    Children in this situation would be more interested in learning a person’s first name so the second and last answers would not be used in this situation. In addition, children tend to be less formal so the third answer would most likely not be used. The best version to use in this situation would be the first answer which is less formal and more friendly or familiar.
  5. John was asked, '¿Cómo te llamas?' Which way would John respond to that question?
    The first thing to do is pay attention to how the question was asked. As the question includes the verb llamar, the answer will also contain that verb. The first and third answers do not have this so they are not the correct response. The second answer says: His name is John. John would not answer that way. However, the last answer says: My name is John. It is the correct way that John would answer the question.
  6. Mrs. Clemens was asked, '¿Cómo se llama?' Which way would Mrs. Clemens respond to that question?
    The first thing to do is pay attention to how the question was asked. As the question includes the verb llamar, the answer will also contain that verb. Neither the first nor the last answer contains the verb lamar. Therefore, they are not the correct response. The second and third answers are very similar except that we are talking about Mrs. Clemens. The Spanish word for Mrs. is Señora while Señorita is for Miss. Therefore, the correct way to respond would be: My name is Mrs. Clemens.
  7. 'Él se llama Guillermo' literally translates to mean ____.
    Él means he in Spanish so the second and last answers would not be correct. In addition, Guillermo is Spanish for William and not for Wilhelmina. The sentence contains the verb llamar which means to call so if we were to translate correctly, the word call should show up in the answer. The first answer does not have the word call but has the word name so it is not the correct, literal translation either. That leaves the third answer which is the literal translation for 'Él se llama Guillermo.'
  8. 'Mi nombre es Esteban' literally translates to mean ____.
    As the verb llamar (to call) is not shown, it will not be used making the third answer incorrect. The name Esteban is Spanish for Stephen and not Stephanie so the last answer can be eliminated as well. Mi is Spanish for my so that eliminates the second answer because mi does not mean his. The first answer is, therefore, the correct literal translation.
  9. Nathan asked his friend’s father his name. How would he have asked this?
    Since Nathan is asking his friend’s father for his name it is very likely that he already knows the man’s last name (as it would be the same as his friends). Therefore, it is logical to believe that Nathan is looking for his friend’s father’s first name. This means we can eliminate the first and last answers. As Nathan’s friend’s father is a person considered to be of a higher ranking, Nathan would ask in a more formal, business and respectful manner over that of an informal and friendly manner. Therefore, Nathan would ask his question as: ¿Cuál es su nombre?
  10. If you have any doubt on which version of the question, 'What is your name?' to use, then you should use this version.
    When in doubt as to which version of the question, 'What is your name?' to use, then use ¿Cómo te llamas? as it is the most commonly used and acceptable version in nearly all situations.

Author: Christine G. Broome

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