One of the best things about learning a new language is the ability to make new friends. When you learn Japanese, you open up the possibility to connect will over a hundred million new people! Of course, you will want to introduce yourself to them, so today we’re going to cover how to say “my name is” in Japanese.
There are several ways that you can do this. I’ve divided them into the phrases that they fall into below. Be sure to read through them and find the one that’s most appropriate for you.
There is also a section on using your company’s (or school’s) name in your self-introduction. This is something that Japanese people do a lot, so check it out to see if you should be doing it as well.
My Name Is …
In order to tell someone your name in Japanese you need to use a couple of words. The first one is “my” which is created by combining one of the many Japanese words for “I” with the の (no) particle.
In order to keep things simple, we’ll just go with 私の (watashi no) for “my” since it’s a polite word that can be used in nearly all situations.
Then we use the word for “name” which is 名前 (namae) and combined it with the は (wa) particle to mark it as the topic of the conversation.
Finally, we use our name along with the verb です (desu) which functions as “is” in English.
The full phrase is the following:
- watashi no namae wa jon desu.
- My name is John.
This is the basic way to tell people what your name is. Of course, you will want to replace the example name in the sentence with your own.
Something that is different about Japanese is that they typically introduce their last name (surname) before they do their first name (given name).
For example, when the protagonist from The Rising of the Shield Hero (Naofumi Iwatani) first introduces himself to Raphtalia he does so by using “Iwatani” first.
- iwatani naofumi, iwatani ga sei de namae wa naofumi da.
- Iwatani Naofumi. Iwatani is my last name and my first name is Naofumi.
So what should you do as a non Japanese person?
You can either follow the Japanese method and introduce yourself as “last name, first name” or you can just use the one that you want people to call you.
Like the “John” example we used above, you can just tell people your first name and that will be enough.
I Am Called …
Another way that you can tell people your name is with the Japanese equivalent to “I am called …” which sounds super formal in English, but isn’t out of the ordinary for Japanese people.
There are actually three different versions of this phrase depending on the level of formality. We will start with the most formal, and then progress to casual.
- sandora to moushi masu.
- I am called Sandra.
In this case, you simply state your name and combine it with the verb 申す (mousu) which is considered respectful language in Japanese. It’s made even more polite than normal by being in the masu-form.
This verb means “to say; to be called” in Japanese.
One important thing to keep in mind is that the と (to) particle is an essential part of this phrase as it functions like a quotation marker for the word that it is attached to. In this case, the name that you’re using.
If we want to use a less formal form of this phrase, but one that is still polite, we can change the verb and keep everything else the same.
- tomasu to ii masu.
- I am called Thomas.
Again we see the と quoting particle which is necessary. We also see the verb 言う (iu) in the polite mass-form.
The verb 言う translates as “to name; to call” in English. It basically means the same thing as 申す but isn’t quite as formal.
Now we will get to the most casual way to say this phrase. To do so, we are to use the same verb but keep it in its dictionary form. We are also going to change the と particle to its more casual form as well.
- risa tte iu.
- I’m called Lisa.
Although we’ve covered four different ways to tell people your name, I think that this next one is actually the most commonly used phrase by Japanese people.
One you read through it, you’ll know why.
I Am …
One of the things that you may have noticed about these phrases is that we also use them in English.
Sometimes we say “My name is Dave” and even though it’s not quite as common, we do use “I am called Dave” in certain situations.
All that being said, the most common way to introduce yourself in English is just by saying “I’m Dave.” It’s pretty simple, and easy to do.
It’s the same in Japanese.
- deibu desu.
- I’m Dave.
Short and sweet.
Using A Company’s Name First
It’s pretty common for people in Japanese to introduce themselves by stating their company’s name first, and then their own name.
- mitsubishi jidousha no suo desu.
- I’m Suo with Mitsubishi Motors.
This is commonly done because in Japanese culture, the group is seen as being more important than the individual.
Therefore, introducing the company (or group) that you belong to comes first before your own name. This can also apply to your position within the company, by introducing your job title or department before your own name.
If you are meeting someone as a representative of your company, then it would be a good idea to put their name before your own when you tell the other person who you are.
But if you’re off the clock and you meet someone new, it’s fine to leave it out.
Go Meet Some People!
Now you know how to tell people your name in a many different ways.
Try each of these phrases out (when appropriate) by going other there and meeting lots of new people!
If you’ve got any questions or comments, then share them down below. Thanks!
Further Resources for Learning Japanese: