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  5. "お名前は何ですか?"


Translation:What is your name?

June 5, 2017



What's that O?


お is an honorific used before a lot of different words. It's typically just used to show respect or reverence for a person or concept. Another example is the word さけ。You may often see it written as おさけ, or in textbooks as (お)さけ to show that it is effectively optional. Basically, if you see an お before a noun and don't know why it was put there, there's a good chance it's being used in this way.


Isn't おさけ alcohol?


not quite. さけ is alcohol. the お is an indication of respect/honour with no word translation in english. it would be close to tone of voice.


Why does alcohol need respect though, this isn't making much sense to me


There are also some set "honoured" words in japanese, that just get the 'O' a lot of the time. For example, you will probably mostly hear and use おちゃ(ocha) for tea. 'Tea' just kinda gets the 'o' all the time, a constant honour


Alcohol deserves respect, as we owe society as a whole to it. Look it up. It's rather interesting.


Think of it as a language feature. It is just the same nonsense as "Why Mädchen (girl) is neutral in German while girl should be a feminine."


Mädchen is neuter because it's the diminutive for "Die Magd". Diminutives always are neuter in German.

Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean its nonsense.


So when someone who is a religious person and considers alcohol haram, (me) speaks japanese says "sake" instead of "osake" JK


It isn't so much that お酒 (おさけ) means "honorable alcohol", it's that leaving out the お means you're calling it "rotgut".


Small correction: it's お酒 not を酒. を is not a prefix/honorofic, but an object marker.


No おさけ is sake if さけ without お is salmon


Has so many dislikes because it's wrong.

  • Salmon is 鮭
  • Alcohol is 酒

Both are pronounced さけ.

You will know which is which by the context, or if you hear the honorific お preceding it it's probably Alcohol.

Also as someone else pointed out you may just hear サーモン instead.


さけ can mean japanese alcohol or salmon. When putting お in front (おさけ)it almost surely means japanese alcohol. To reduce confusion, people often use サーモン to indicate salmon.


Salmon is easy to remember. It's a little fish on the left and then the fish bones! I don't know how to type that character though...


お is often placed in front of food/drink/dish names for example おベントis Lunch Box and お寿司 is Sushi. I say dish because I don't think it would be used for vauge food items like vegetables or meats. Specific vegetables and meats yes but not the concept of a vegetable or piece of meat.


So a more casual way of saying a word is to just put no "お" in front of it?


Hmm, you can't just add it to anything, so you should think of it the other way around. Adding お (or ご) = more polite.

There's also a complication that has largely been ignored by the other commenters because it's well beyond the scope of this course, but might be helpful for some people. The use of お/ご in front of a noun can actually be subdivided into two possible usages.

The one being used here (and the one everyone is most familiar with) is for showing respect or deference to the listener, which is why お名前 means "your name".

The other usage, called 美化語 (bikago or "beautification language"), is for making one's own words/speech sound "nice", "refined", or "proper". Many of the examples others have given usually fall under this category.

So rather than "no お = more casual", you think about the reason for adding お.


Interesting. So if I didn't want to show respect for whatever reason what I just say 名前は何ですか?


It's for being polite, doesn't really add any extra meaning. It's used for quite a lot of words, actually. In my experience, it isn't used much, but sometimes, it's a good idea.


It depends if youre in a work or casual setting


For anyone who wonder, before です, 何 reads "nan" instead of "nani" to make the pronunciation easier.


As far as I know 何 is pronounced "nan" if the following word starts with t, d and n.


I have heard that is a dangerous rule of thumb, because it only applies sometimes. The actual rule is supposedly very complicated.


It sounds a lot like english tho, with like " 'i' before 'e' etc etc." we have a rule of thumb thats pretty solid with an increasingly long list of exceptions in increasingly specific circumstances.


Why do we use a は and not a が in this case? Isn't the actual topic the other person, rather than the other person's name? So something along the lines of: あなたは おなまえが なん ですか。('As for you, what is the name?') So leaving out the あなたは should leave the particle が? Or is it because the verb です is not something performed by the person in contrary to a sentence like: (わたしは) にほんごが はなせます。 Which is why in the latter sentence we use a が rather than a は when leaving out the わたしは? Sorry for the long post but this は vs が really confuses me.

Kind Regards and thanks a lot in advance


It's because the full sentence actually reads あなたの名前は何ですか, which means what is your name, and あなたの名前 is the topic of the sentence. Since the name in question can usually be understood from context whose it is, the あなたの normally gets left off. As a result we are left with just 名前 for the topic. However we haven't learned the の particle yet, which can indicate a kind of posession or ownership, so this is probably not the best timing for this example.


Adding to this, the use of お before 名前 serves to highlight the context by making the noun an honorific. Since you would never use お名前 to refer to your own name, the implication is that you're talking about the name of the person you are asking.


Thanks a lot for your answer. So basically the topic of the sentence then is the other person's name and not the other person (as I suggested in my initial post). I still find it a bit confusing because we are receiving information about the other person. So I would assume the other person to be the topic instead? Well, I'll just hope for the confusion to fade once the の particle is introduced.

Have a nice day and good luck with your studies everyone!


The topic isn't some magical unspoken thing. The topic and the subject of the sentence are usually the same, and は serves double duty. "(Your) name-- what is it?" Establishing a topic also lets you omit an explicit subject from subsequent sentences, and the topic is assumed to be the subject.

Using the subject marker が is only used when stressing that THIS is the subject, not THAT other thing. Take the sentence: "My name is Hunter." Name would usually get は here as in this exercise because it's the topic as well as subject. But if you had this conversation: "I am Hunter." "You're a hunter?" "My NAME is Hunter." That last sentence is the same as above, but here you'd use が because you're stressing that "name" is the subject as opposed to something else. But just as that last sentence with "NAME" stressed would seem odd out of context, you likewise wouldn't use が without that context.

の simply shows possession, like adding 's in English, (and あなた "anata" means "you" since we haven't learned that yet), so あなたの名前 just means "your name." This doesn't really have any effect on subject vs. topic, just more explicitly specifies whose name we're talking about.


Aha! the "no" particle is the c o o l e s t. It's a particle of possesion, so you could go "watashi no namae wa ...... desu" which is "my name is" (word order is different in Japanese, so that's why the ellipsis are in the middle of the sentece), As explained in the comment above. I hope this made sense? Please tell me if it didn't, I usually don't tend to make a lot of sense when I'm describing things on the forums...


More like my name ... It is.


I think your example should read "にほんごを はなせます” using を not が.




Using を with the potential form is kind of a misuse.


That's interesting. Mind expanding on that or giving a reference to it?


In sentences with a potential form, that which is '-able' becomes the grammatical subject.

For example, 日本語が 話せます can be translated into English as " (I/you/etc.) can speak Japanese" but grammatically (in Japanese) it's more like "Japanese can be spoken (by me/you/etc.)". In negatives it's the same: この魚(さかな)が食べられない can be understood as "(X) can't eat this fish", but it's closer to "this fish cannot be eaten", hence the use of が instead of を.

While people (incl. native speakers) might use を with a potential form in spoken Japanese, it's not actually correct. That's just the way it goes with living languages...



The use of を with potential form is not completely wrong and sometimes seen in conversations, but I would still say it is a misuse in modern Japanese.


Also, "o" shouldn't be used when you're talking about yourself. That would indicate that you're speaking of yourself in a higher manner, I'm pretty sure. So, if someone says "おげんきですか" to ask how you are, you wouldn't say "はい、おげんきです". You'd omit the "o" when referring to how you, yourself, are doing.


Is using "Kimi No Na Wa" to ask for a person's name wrong, abrupt, or awkward? If not, can anyone please give me a context?


君の名は。It's a movie title. And it's not a question, so it's not asking for someone's name. It's just "Your Name."

君 "Kimi" is a very familiar form of "you" that you wouldn't use with a stranger whose name you don't know.

の "No" is the possessive particle.

名 "Na" (the first Kanji of 名前 "namae") kind of means name, but my understanding is that it's a more poetic or conceptual form that refers more to giving "a name" to someone or something, rather than specifically a person's proper name. But I've also heard that on Japanese forms, na is used for the blank for your given/first name.

は "Wa" is the topic marker.


I can confirm the きみ(君) one by now, I have only heard it once used by a couple in public, even classmates/friends told me it basically feels like you're arrogantly flirting with someone if you use it (well being at the age of a university student, that is)


ummm... I think I know what you're trying to say here, and I THINK it's completly wrong. If you're asking a name, you can use the example above, but you need more honourific speech, so for example you can "O namae wa na desu ka?" that "O" and "desu" makes this polite, wheras saying "kimi no namae?" is incredibly impolite, for you do not know that person and it's always to be polite, as many japanese do not like the way westerns learn the language, but more on this another time. Anyway, in short, it's always better to use honorifics, like "san" and whatnot, and verb endings like "desu" and "masu". I hope this helped?


Silly question. But, why is this " what is your name? " Not "what is my name?" Because i think there's no person in this... is it like common sense? Sorry....


Ha, that's a funny question. If you ever find yourself in Japan with such a severe case of amnesia that you'd want to ask about your own name, just leave out the お~. That's an honorific; a prefix added to express politeness towards the person you're talking to. But... yes, it's also highly uncommon to ask what your own name is, so if you do, you should probably add 私の ("my") in front of 名前は何ですか. Otherwise they might just think you're rude.


If "na-ma-e" is "name", what is "na-ni"?


Yes, "what" is "nani" ;)

Seriously, 何 (なに) means "what"


This totally reminds me of the "Who's on First" comedy skit XD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTcRRaXV-fg Which I actually first found out about many years ago from the World of Warcraft version ("Who's the Tank"): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ekLO8BwxwE

I know those videos don't really contribute anything to learning Japanese, but I couldn't help but be reminded of them, haha


Is that "ha" or "wa"


は is being used as a topic indicator. While it's usually pronounced "ha," it's pronounced "wa" in these situations.


I'm not completely sure what topic indicator means actually


It's kind of confusing! Here's an article about は & が that discusses it: http://nihonshock.com/2010/02/particles-the-difference-between-wa-and-ga/


Can you also say 'あなたの名前なんですか', right?


Almost. You also need the topic marker. あなたの名前は何ですか


How do I pronounce this? the recording is a little too fast for me to understand.




What part of the sentance is what. Whats the subject or pronoun...


お名前 is subject (Your name), 何 is object (What), です is verb (Is)


I heard it is very formal to say this? How do people normally say what is your name/my name is ...?


I would say this is somewhat polite, but not necessarily very formal. It's very normal to say this sentence in civil conversation between strangers/people who don't know each other well.

There are ways to make this more polite and formal, but those would only be used in business situations (e.g. asking a new client for their name).

As for how people say "my name is...", normally (not in business situations) people would say nameです, nameといいます, or 私の名前はnameです but I'm sure there are a couple more variations I'm not thinking of.


I'm confused about this... I don't understand why the syallbes are used like this. Why is "What is your name?" Use with those symbolls? Or shido being white? Can someone please explan to me this?


So, let's deal with the symbols first. A really long time ago, the Japanese discovered China (or perhaps the other way around) and saw that the Chinese had a neat writing system where each picture or symbol represented an idea. Before that, the Japanese were using a writing system where each picture or symbol represented a syllable (technically, a mora). If a Japanese person wanted to write "name", they had to write 3 (Japanese) symbols, なまえ, whereas now we just write 2 (Chinese symbols), 名前.

Admittedly, the 2 characters are a lot more complicated than the 3. However, there were two important advantages to adopting the Chinese system. One being that, since each symbol was the same size, less symbols meant you could write more in the same amount of space. Back then, paper was super valuable and expensive, so you wanted to get the most out of your paper.

Secondly, you could now create new words by combining these "idea" symbols, and have people understand, or at least make a good guess about, what they mean. If you made up some rules about pronunciation, you could even have people make a good guess about how to say your new words. You could even make related words look and sound related. These "idea" symbols are really useful if you only knew how to write down sounds.

But the Japanese already had a bunch of words that they agreed on, and they sounded really different from the way the Chinese said them. "That's fine though", the Japanese said, "we'll just pick the symbols we like, and keep saying them our way. If we find new symbols, let's "take inspiration" from the Chinese pronunciation." So, words like "white" were mapped onto symbols from Chinese, 白, and pronounced shiro, because that's how the Japanese already said "white".

Well, the full story is a fair bit more complicated, but that's the general idea.


Can anyone tell me which word indicates whose name it is?


no word does. usually it's the person you're talking to. when referring to someone else, you should use their name if known, or title if not.


Ok in japanese, you don't really use the word "you", because it can be either a) inferred by context, or b) you say their name. (You can say you, but there are many complications). Think of the "O" as the you pronoun if that helps, because literally this sentece means: (politness prefix) name (topic particle) what is (question indicator)?. I hope this helped?


it's never a good idea to pretend that it's something its not. it will come back to bite you later, when お is used in another sentence where "you" is nonsense. English sentence structure doesn't apply to japanese, and trying to make it will make learning much harder.


I see what you mean, thank you so much. The way I was "taught" in a manner of speaking is that "o" is a politness prefix, but can be used to show the direction in which the question is being asked. That is what I meant to say, but I suppose that that is not right either? どうもありがとう


Don't know why you got so many downvotes so I give you lingot instead...

Yes in some cases like this one, we use the honorific indicators (お・ご)to represent "you" instead of explicitly saying あなた or きみ (or any other variants), because it is a bit impolite to refer to other person as あなた instead of saying his/her name.

But お・ご are also used in a customary way (bikago) where they do not mean "your," but they are just added so that it sounds better, e.g. お寺(てら), おみやげ, おふろ, ごはん, ご膳(ぜん).


"ごはん" is food and" ごぜん" is time right? Could you say more examples of common talk with the honourific "ご"? ありがとう in advance


Sorry I missed this question. ごはん is rice and ご膳 is deluxe meal. So these are customary usages (does not honorify the owner of the word in question.)

For honorific usage (honorify the owner of the word, i.e. translate to "your" in most cases), お名前 your name、ご住所(じゅうしょ) your address、御社(おんしゃ)your company、御意(ぎょい) your will.


Is "名前ですか?"correct


It means "is it a name?"


Couldn't you also use あなたのまえですか?


That translates to "Is it your front?". You could replace the "お" in お名前 with あなたの (though it's better to keep it as is), but the rest of the sentence would remain the same.


Can you also say something like きものなまえはですか? If yes how would it look like with kanjis


You can, but be careful using the pronoun 君. It is usually used to refer to people below you in social status.




Can you say お名前は?


As in, instead of saying the full sentence? Yes, but just like saying "Your name is...?" in English, depending on the tone and the situation, it can sound presumptuous or standoffish.


Does it sound disrespectful without the お? To a stranger, or a business partner, etc.


It does sound impolite if you don't use お in the case like this one, where it is a polite modifier. Please refer to other comments for the two different usages of お.


What about this sentence refers to "Her" i read "what is your name". But i learned it originally as あなたの名前は何ですか anatano namae wa nandesuka. Where have i gone stray?


There is no reference to "her" in this sentence; if Duo told you "what is her name" is the correct answer, you should report it.

You haven't gone astray. あなたの名前 is an alternative to お名前 in this case. Simply, お名前 sounds more polite and natural here.


Well I can't say "her" name is wrong. There is still a use case I think:

A: つい先ほどお客さまがお見えになりましたよ。 (Just now a customer has arrived.)

B: えっ、(お客さまの)お名前は何ですか。 (Oh, what is her name?)


Why does it say tooth on the middle of it


It's an artefact of Duo's hint system. The word for "tooth" is 歯, but it's pronounced ha or は.

Here, the character は is acting as the topic particle, meaning it's pronounced wa.


Why the Kanji that is for "nani" is pronounced "Nan" in the sentence?


The pronunciation changes depending on the sound following it.


  • なにを
  • なにに
  • なにが
  • なによ

  • なんで

  • なんだ
  • なんの
  • なんと


Why is "what" near the end of the sentence?


It is the grammar. As a Chinese speaker, I would ask, why is "what" needs to be in front of the English sentence.


"What's the name?" was wrong. Ok, but where is it specified that 'the name of the person you are talking to' is the topic?

As I know 'omai' is 'you' (not sure tho, pls correct me) but i can't find any character that indicates you mean your opposite.

And if that sentence is really correct: What would you say if you are in a situation like: Person: "that companys building is pretty cool" You: "Yeah, whats the name? (of the company/building)"

Please help, I'm confused :(


You would not be confused if you read even a little bit of this thread. The answer is everywhere: お in 名前 means you.


What Keith said. But also just warning you: お前 (おまえ) is pronounced omae, not omai, and it's a decidedly NOT polite way to say "you".


お名前は何かですか? adding か with 何 is that wrong? or can it be left out?


何か means something. Your sentence literally means "Is your name something?"


Do you use question marks when writing qurstions because it seems like thats what the last syllable is for ... ka...


It depends on the situation; in formal and more traditional writing, question marks are not used.

The way I see it, the か is a grammatical question mark and it's used when you want to properly form a question. The ? is a tonal question mark and it's used when you just want to put a questioning inflection in your sentence. For example:

  • 仕事は終わりましたか?【しごとはおわりましたか】= "Is your work done?" (Normal question, inquiring tone of voice)
  • 仕事は終わりましたか。(Blunt question, authoritative tone of voice)
  • 仕事は終わりました。(Statement) = "My work is done."
  • 仕事は終わりました? (Gentle question, expectant tone of voice)
  • 仕事は終わりましたかぁ。(Introspective statement) = "So, your work is done, huh..."

Disclaimer: I'm not a native Japanese speaker and in speech, your actual tone of voice can override these implied tones of voice in the written language.


か。as a sentence ending particle is a question mark. In english we use the symbol "?" the exact same way.

If Japanese has adopted use of "?" it's a relatively recent loan symbol from english or another language that does use them.


whats the difference between といいます and 名前?


といいます is と(quotation particle) いいます (言います - to say/declare/name/call) and is a verb. It's like saying "call me "name" "

名前 is just the noun for "name" and would be used with the copula です to be/am/is/are
名前は(name)です - "My name is (name)"


If nani is before desu, is it always pronounced nandesu, or is pronounced nani in other context?


何 is pronounced "nan" before words beginning with d, n or t. Otherwise, it is pronounced "nani".


It should be clarified that nothing in this sentence implies it's asking for "your" name. If you were at a party and wanted to know someone's name without asking them, you could say お名前は何ですか as well.


If there is enough context it is possible as well. But without context, the お before 名前 has a strong indication that it is talking about the listener. But normally for clarity, to ask the name of someone that has a higher status, e.g. customer's wife, we say 奥様のお名前は何ですか to specify the person to ask for.


Just curious, how does this full version compare to simply (forgive spelling) "onamae wa?" - this is usually how YouTube videos have taught "What is your name?"


お名前は何ですか is the full sentence "What is your name?" (name)(topic marker)(what)(is)(?)
お名前は is just a sentence fragment, "Your name.....??" it's more casual


Thank you. I guess it's simpler in those vids for absolute beginners but obviously I'd like to sound like I know how to speak fully and properly!


My biggest question with this whole language is: "Why is は sometimes わ???"


The pronunciation of the kana have changed and drifted quite a bit over time. There was a point where a single kana could have multiple different sounds depending on where it fell in a word. Reading and writing was so inconsistent and was such a mess that there was a massive language reform that would solidify a single sound to a single kana. This meant rearranging the kana sounds a bit as well.
The W column of sounds became the H column (and most of the W kana were removed), while the H column became the A/vowel column. は once pronounced "wa" became "ha", へ. "he" became "e ".

As you can imagine reforming the way your writing system worked meant completely reteaching an entire population of people how to read and write with the new system and also to change every existing document to make it readable in the new system. While the majority of words are written in kanji though, this really wasn't that big of a problem since the only real spellings that would change would be the furigana telling how to pronounce the kanji in most instances. For the most part, reading and writing really wouldn't be effected that much.
There was one massive problem though. Kana like は and へ weren't just used in furigana; they were extremely common particles. Changing these kana to the new system and re-educating everyone would be incredibly difficult and confusing. Rather than change them they simply kept their original function and pronunciation as their particles. So now these kana carry two different sounds. Their new reformed sound for when they are a part of a word, as well as their original when used as a particle.


Can I answer :"ディエゴと言います" ?

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