My Chinese Name: How to Say and Write Your Name in Chinese (+ Examples)

name in Chinese

帕特里克 Pà tè lǐ kè… 夏洛特 Xià luò tè… 史蒂文 Shǐ dì wén…

Do these names sound familiar to you? They’re some of the most common English names pronounced in Mandarin Chinese. If you are visiting or living in China, one of the big questions you can’t get away with from Chinese people is “what’s your name?”. So you’ll definitely want to know how to say your name in Chinese.

If you don’t know yet, all foreign names can be easily translated into Chinese, one way or another. Sure, you can belt out your name in English. Problem is, people in China – except for young people in big cities like Shanghai or Beijing – generally don’t speak English. If you answer with “Patrick”, or “Charlotte”, chances are, they can’t recognize, remember, or even pronounce your name. That’s why it’s important to learn how to say your name in Chinese.

Luckily for you, we got this entire post dedicated to name in Chinese!

We’ll cover the most common names in the world – both their official Chinese translations and common variations, teach you how to write your name in Chinese characters, and pronounce it in standard Mandarin. Besides, we’ll look at the logic behind the Chinese translations of foreign names and show you how your name is translated from English or your native language in the first place. And at the end of the post, we’ll help you learn a few expressions you can use when introducing yourself to your Chinese-speaking friends.

Sound good? Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

First and foremost, let’s learn how to say “name” in Chinese.

Name in Chinese

The word for “name” in Chinese is:

  • 名字 (míngzi)

It’s a very quick and simple word for you to add to your staple Chinese vocabulary! If you break the word into characters, 名 (míng) stands for “given name”, and 字 (zì) means “courtesy name”, which is the name given to a person when they reach adulthood in traditional Chinese culture.

Technically, 名字 (míngzi) only means given name, but informally, you can use 名字 (míngzi) to refer to your full name (family name + given name).

Another word for “name” in Chinese is:

  • 姓名 (xìngmíng)

The difference between the two words is that 姓名 (xìngmíng), formed by the characters 姓 (xìng) – “family name” and 名 (míng) – “given name”, is the official word for full name, and is thus used in formal contexts like written documents. Meanwhile, 名字 (míngzi) is more frequently used in conversation, or when saying phrases such as “my name”, which in Chinese translates to 我的名字 (wǒ de míngzi).

How to Translate Your Name into Chinese

translate name into Chinese

The Chinese language does not have an alphabet, rather, the writing system is made up of thousands of different characters. So in Chinese, all foreign names – whether they come from English, Greek, or Russian – need to be written in characters, which are words essentially, instead of letters.

“Then how do I translate my name into Chinese?”, you asked.

Well, with a few exceptions, the majority of the foreign names are translated, more accurately, transliterated into Chinese phonetically by stringing together Chinese characters that sound similar to the syllables or phonemes of the original name. For instance, Jason becomes 杰森 (Jié sēn), two Chinese characters that sound like Jason in English.

Translating Western Names into Chinese

For certain Western names, transliteration is rather convenient because all you have to do is break your name into its component syllables and imagine how you would pronounce them in a thick Chinese accent, and you’ve got it.

Case in point:

  • Amanda → A-man-da → 阿曼达 (pronunciation: Ā màn dá)
  • Kamila → Ka-mi-la→ 卡米拉 (pronunciation: Kǎ mǐ lā)
  • Mina → Mi-na → 米娜 (pronunciation: Mǐ nà)

As you can see, even though these names may look completely unrecognizable when written in Chinese characters, their Pinyin versions (the Romanization of the Chinese characters) look pretty much the same as the originals, aside from the tone marks.

But here’s the main issue:

Because Chinese characters can only represent syllables as concrete blocks of sound but not as fluid combinations of letters, most western names, when transliterated into Chinese, don’t sound like the originals.

For instance,

  • Bradley → B-ra-d-ley → 布莱德利 (pronunciation: Bù lái dé lì)
  • Patricia → Pa-t-ri-ci-a → 帕特里西娅 (pronunciation: Pà tè lǐ xī yà)

Since each Chinese character is just one syllable, you need a different character to represent the different parts of a consonant or vowel cluster which would be pronounced together as one sound in English (e.g. “tr”, “ia”).

So, in the above examples, while “Bradley” is two syllables in English, it becomes a four-character/syllable name when transliterated into Chinese. And “Patricia”, a three-syllable English name is now five syllables in Chinese.

Besides, Mandarin Chinese has a much smaller stock of sounds compared with English (there are only around 400 syllables in Chinese while there are over 10,000 in English), so very often, the sounds in the foreign name don’t exist at all in Chinese. In that case, you just have to produce the closest equivalent you can!

Just look at what happened to these names.  

  • Kimberly → Kim-ber-ly → 金伯莉 (pronunciation: Jīn bó lì)
    (There is neither “kim” nor “ber” sound in Chinese, so “jīn” and “bó” are used for approximation)
  • Donald → Don-nal-d → 唐纳德 (pronunciation: Táng nà dé)
    (There is neither “don” nor “nal” sound in Chinese, so “Táng” and “nà” are used for approximation)

Though these Chinese transliterations barely sound anything like the original names, it’s about the best you can do!

Bottom line: most of the time, Chinese transliterations are a very, very rough approximation of the sound of the foreign names.

Now, here’s the interesting part:

The Chinese transliterations of foreign names don’t always have to be based on their pronunciation in English. Many names are translated into Chinese in a way that uses the sounds of their original word.

For example, John is called 约翰 (Yuē hàn) in Chinese, which is nothing like the pronunciation of “John” in English. This is because the name “John” itself is derived from the Hebrew name “Yohanan”. So the Chinese translation of John is based on the name’s pronunciation in Hebrew rather than English – hence the translated name 约翰 (Yuē hàn).

In a similar fashion, “Joseph” is translated as 约瑟夫 (Yuē sè fū) in Chinese. It follows the pronunciation of its original Hebrew name “Yosef” instead of the English name “Joseph”.   

Translating Asian Names into Chinese

While most foreign names are translated into Chinese by sound, it’s not the case for every name.

For Asian countries that have historically used Chinese characters, original names in characters are retained in Chinese. 

For example, the famous Japanese artist Yoko Ono is 小野洋子 in Chinese, which is the same as her name written in Japanese Kanji. Since characters are read differently in Japanese and Chinese, 小野洋子 is pronounced “Ono Yōko” in the original Japanese but (Xiǎoyě Yángzǐ) in Chinese.

The same goes for Korean names and Vietnamese names – since both countries had once used a writing system based on Chinese characters, you don’t need to translate the names into Chinese phonetically as you would do with western names.

What Does Your Name Mean in Chinese?

Writing foreign names in Chinese characters has a long history and practical reasons. But do the names in Chinese actually mean anything?

meaning of name in Chinese

Well, most of the time, the method of translating foreign names into Chinese is purely phonetic. Even though the Chinese characters that make up the names have meanings on their own, the conjunction of characters in a transliterated name doesnt mean anything – its just a string of sounds.

For example, Christopher is written as 克里斯多夫 (Kè lǐ sī duō fū) in Chinese. If you take the characters literally, “克-里-斯-多-夫” means “gram-inside-thus-many-man” or “conquer-mile-this-more-husband” (a Chinese character may have many and varied meanings). But just by looking at it, Chinese people will immediately know it’s a foreign name and discard any meanings these characters may have originally had. Obviously, it’s just the phonetic representation of “Ch-ri-s-to-pher”.

That said, since there are so many characters to choose from when transcribing a foreign name, a translator can manipulate the transcription to add additional connotations to the name.

Just as Chinese parents like to choose names that feature characters with auspicious meanings for their babies, characters with negative connotations would be avoided in favor of “elegant” characters with positive or at least neutral meanings for transliteration. It’s nice when a name’s translation makes sense both phonetically and semantically.

For instance, the character 德 (dé), meaning “virtue”, is often used in transliteration to approximate the “d” sound in English names like Dwight – 怀特 ( huái tè) and Gerald – 杰拉 (Jié lā ).

Similarly, the sounds of “t” and “Ge” are represented by 特 (tè) – “exceptional” and 杰 (Jié) – “outstanding”, respectively, in the above names – another two characters with positive meanings.

Additionally, some characters are considered typically masculine or feminine. For guys, this means characters that denote strength or firmness are usually used when transliterating their names into Chinese, and for girls, characters with suggestions of beauty or elegance.

For instance, the feminine name Hannah is 汉娜 (Hàn nà) in Chinese, with the character 娜 (nà) meaning “graceful”, while the masculine name Johnny is 强尼 (Qiáng ní) in Chinese, with 强 (qiáng) meaning “strong”.

For the same reason, a different set of characters may be chosen for transcribing the same syllable or phoneme in foreign names to give the names a distinctly masculine or feminine feel.

Example:

For Johnny – 强尼 (Qiáng ní), a neutral character 尼 (ní) is used to transcribe the “ny” sound in the name, whereas for Jenny – 珍妮 (Zhēn nī), 妮 (nī) – a feminine character is used instead to transcribe the same “ny” sound, implying the name bearer is likely a woman (the radical 女 on the left side of 妮 symbolizes woman).

To further illustrate the point, look at how the gender-neutral name “Ashley” is translated into different Chinese versions based on sex.

  • Ashley (male) → A-sh-ley → 阿什 (Ā shí lì)
  • Ashley (female) → A-sh-ley → 阿什 (Ā shí lì)

The sound “ley” in the male “Ashley” is translated as 利 (lì), a neutral character meaning “benefit”, while in the female version, it’s translated as “莉”, a popular character used in Chinese girl names meaning “Jasmine”.

masculine or feminine name in Chinese

 

Name in Chinese: More Than One Version?

You’ve probably noticed by now that Mandarin Chinese has lots of homophonous characters (having the same pronunciation but different meanings, like the English “deer” and “dear”) due to its limited stock of syllables. So it’s easy to use various combinations of characters to transcribe the same foreign name. In other words, a foreigner may have multiple names in Chinese.

For instance, Chris can be written as 克里丝 as well as 克里斯 – both of them are pronounced (Kè lǐ sī).

And the number of possible transliterations can increase dramatically when a name doesn’t match exactly any Chinese sound and several similar-sounding characters can be considered. 

For instance, Rachel can be 蕾切尔 (Lěi qiè ěr), 瑞吉儿 (Ruì jí ér) and 瑞秋 (Ruì qiū) at the same time since there is no particular character combination that sounds the same as the English “Rachel”.

Interestingly, western celebrities that have the same name are often given different transliterated names in Chinese on purpose as a way of helping Chinese people distinguish one person from another.

Take Trump, for example, the Former US President Donald Trump’s name is translated as 特朗普 (Tè lǎng pǔ) while the English snooker player Judd Trump is referred to as 特鲁姆普 (Tè lǔ mǔ pǔ) on Chinese media.  

How to Write Your Name in Chinese

If you’re learning Chinese, one of the first things you should learn is how to introduce yourself! And you can’t do that unless you know your name in Chinese. So in this section, we’ll teach you the rope of writing your name in Chinese.

write name in Chinese

Writing the Name in Chinese Characters

Here is how you should do it:

1. Break Your Name into Constituent Sounds  

Foreign names are written with Chinese characters that match phonetically with their original sounds. As each character is only one syllable, the first step to writing your name in Chinese is to break your name into its constituent sounds.

Here, you may fall into your first dilemma. Chinese characters must comprise a vowel sound. However, many English names only contain a consonant sound. In this case, you need to add a Chinese vowel to that consonant or between the consonant cluster to make the sound transcribable.

For example,

When saying the name “Francis” in English, the consonant cluster “Fr” is pronounced together without a break. So you need to add a Chinese vowel to the consonant “f”, which in this case is “u” – the closest match to the ending sound of “f”.

The rule also applies to the “s” in “Francis”. You need to add the Chinese vowel “i” (pronounced “ri”) to it to mimic the ending sound of “s”.

So if you want to transcribe the name “Francis”, first you have to break it into “F(u)-ran-ci-s(i)”, making it four syllables, rather than two, in Chinese.

2. Replace the Sounds with Similar-sounding Characters

The next step is to find Chinese characters that correspond to the constituent sounds of your name.

In the case of “Francis”, look for four Chinese characters that sound similar to the four syllables – “F(u)-ran-ci-s(i)”.

Now, to write your name in Chinese, you need to know the basics of characters. The easiest way is to find a character that sounds the same as the syllable. For example, 弗 (Fú) for F(u), and 斯 (sī) for “s(i)”.

Some syllables can’t be directly transferred to Chinese, and you would need to find a similar-sounding character to approximate the sound. For instance, “ran” and “ci” are not sounds that naturally occur in Chinese, so you need to find the closest equivalents you can. In this case, “ran” and “ci” can be approximated by 朗 (lǎng) and 西 (xī), respectively.  

Now, you just need to put the characters together and write 弗朗西斯 (Fú lǎng xī sī) for “Francis”.

3. Use Feminine Characters to Transcribe Girl Names

Just like you can turn the name “Francis” into its female version “Frances” by changing the spelling, you can make a name in Chinese appear more feminine by using feminine characters in the transliteration process.

So, instead of using the neutral character 斯 (sī), meaning “thus”, to approximate the “si” syllable, you can opt for 丝 (sī), which means “silk”. Thus, the girl’s name “Frances” can be written as 弗朗西丝 (Fú lǎng xī sī) in Chinese.

Some other frequently used Chinese characters for transcribing girl names include: 娅 (yà), 玛(mǎ), 丽(lì), 莉(lì), 娜 (nà), 琳 (lín), 莎 (shā), 黛 (dài), 妮 (nī), 薇 (wēi), 莲 (lián), 梅 (méi), 蕾 (lěi) and etc.

4. Turn R-sounds into L-sounds to Fit the Chinese Pronunciation

Because determining which Chinese characters sound most like your name can be something highly subjective, in reality, there are no set ways of writing your name in Chinese. However, there are some popular ways of doing it. (China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has set some rules which designate that foreign names be written in a certain way to avoid confusion)

For example, if your original name contains an “r+vowel” sound, it’s customary to change it to an “l+vowel” sound for Chinese transliteration. So, Randy becomes Landy – 迪 (Lán dí) and Frank becomes Flank – 弗克 (Fú lán kè).

5. Turn V-sounds into W-sounds

Since Mandarin does not use “v”, you have to replace the “v+vowel” sound in your name with “w+vowel”.  

Examples:

  • Victor – 克多 (Wéi kè duō)
  • Valentina – 伦蒂娜 ( lún dì nà)
  • Olivier – 奥利尔 (Ào lì wéi ěr)

6. Turn “TH” sounds (/ð,θ/) into X-sounds or S-sounds

The consonant cluster “th”, which involves the biting of the tongue, doesn’t exist in Chinese either, so you need to substitute sounds like “x” or “s” that are easier for Chinese people to say.

Examples:

  • Matthew – 马 (Mǎ xiū)
  • Cynthia – 辛西娅 (Xīn  yà)
  • Jonathan – 乔纳 (Qiáo nà sēn)

7. Break up Consonant Clusters

Consonant clusters (e.g. “br”, “cl”, “pr”, etc) don’t exist in Chinese. So you need to split them up into two parts, separating them with two characters. While the last consonant can be transcribed with different characters depending on the subsequent vowel, there is usually a fixed character for the first consonant. Here are some examples:

  • Blair – 莱尔 ( lái ěr)
    Brian – 莱恩 ( lái ēn)
    The “b” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 布 (bù).
  • Claude – 劳德 ( láo dé)
    Craig – 雷格 ( léi gé)
    Chloe – 洛伊 ( luò yī)
    The “c” and “ch” in a consonant cluster are usually translated as 克 (Kè).
  • Bradley – 布莱利 (Bù lái lì)
    Drew – 鲁 ( lǔ)
    The “d” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 德 (dé).
  • Florentino – 洛伦蒂诺 ( luò lún dì nuò)
    Franco – 兰科 ( lán kē)
    The “f” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 弗 (fú).
  • Glen – 伦 ( lún)
    Grace – 蕾丝 ( lěi sī)
    The “g” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 格 (gé).
  • Platt – 拉特 ( lā tè)
    Presley – 莱斯利 ( lái sī lì)
    The “p” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 普 (pǔ).
  • Tlaloc – 拉洛克 ( lā luò kè)
    Tracy – 特蕾西 ( lěi xī)
    The “t” in a consonant cluster is usually translated as 特 (tè).

8. Transcribe the “l” and “lle” at the end of a name as 尔

To write names that end with an “l” or “lle”, you could use 尔 (ěr).

Examples:

  • Michael – 迈克 (Mài kè ěr)
  • Gabrie– 加布里埃 (Jiā bù lǐ āi ěr)
  • Michelle – 米歇(Mǐ xiē ěr)

9. Transcribe the “ia” at the end of a name as either 亚 or 娅

Other tricky names to write in Chinese would be those that end with “ia”. In this case, you could use either 亚 (yà) or 娅 (yà), though the latter is mainly used in girl names.

  • Mattia – 马蒂 (Mǎ dì )
  • Victoria – 维多利/维多利 (Wéi duō lì )
  • Olivia – 奥利维/奥利维 (Ào lì wéi )

Writing Your Full Name

Since Chinese lacks spacing between characters, when writing both first and last names together in Chinese, the names should be separated by an interpunct (a centered dot) to make it clear that you are writing a full name.

For example, Mark Twain (Mar-k T-wain) would be written as 马克·吐温 (Mǎ kè · Tǔ wēn), and Stephen King (S-te-phen King) would be written as 斯蒂芬·金 (Sī dì fēn · Jīn).

As for the order of names in Chinese, stick to the Western practice, that is, write your first name in Chinese first, then your middle name (if you have one), and finally your last name. You don’t need to reverse your names to conform to the Chinese name pattern where the family name is placed before the given name. Essentially, you are just transcribing your name with Chinese characters, not writing a Chinese name per se.

Find Your Name in Chinese

While a name can have multiple possible transcriptions in Chinese, if you have a fairly common name, then chances are there’s already a standard way of writing your name in characters that Chinese people are familiar with, so you don’t have to get all creative with character selection.

Below, we list the official, standard Chinese translations of foreign names used by mainstream media and publications in China, along with their common variant forms.

foreign names in Chinese

English Names in Chinese

We’ll start with the most common English names. They are translated into Chinese characters that are phonetically similar to the original name, without necessarily being very meaningful. The transliteration of “David”, for example, is 大卫 (Dà wèi), literally – “big guard”.

Common Male English Names in Chinese

Here’s the list of the top 100 English names for boys written in Chinese characters, along with Pinyin pronunciation. Looking at these will help you figure out how your name should be pronounced in Chinese as well!

English NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
James詹姆斯Zhān mǔ sī 
Robert罗伯特Luó bó tè 
John约翰Yuē hàn 
Michael迈克尔Mài kè ěr 
William威廉Wēi lián 
David大卫Dà wèi戴维
Richard理查德Lǐ chá dé 
Joseph约瑟夫Yuē sè fū 
Thomas托马斯Tuō mǎ sī 
Charles     查尔斯Chá ěr sī 
Christopher克里斯托弗Kè lǐ sī tuō fú克里斯多夫
Daniel丹尼尔Dān ní ěr 
Matthew马修Mǎ xiū 
Anthony安东尼Ān dōng ní 
Mark马克Mǎ kè马可
Donald唐纳德Táng nà dé 
Steven史蒂文Shǐ dì wén斯蒂文
Paul保罗Bǎo luó保尔
Andrew安德鲁Ān dé lǔ 
Joshua      约书亚Yuē shū yà乔舒亚
Kenneth肯尼斯Kěn ní sī 
Kevin凯文Kǎi wén 
Brian布莱恩Bù lái ēn布瑞恩; 布里安
George乔治Qiáo zhì 
Edward爱德华Ài dé huá 
Ronald罗纳德Luó nà dé罗纳尔
Timothy蒂莫西Dì mò xī提摩太
Jason杰森Jié sēn 
Jeffrey杰弗里Jié fú lǐ杰弗瑞
Ryan        瑞恩Ruì ēn赖安; 里安
Jacob雅各布Yǎ gè bù 
Gary加里Jiā lǐ盖瑞
Nicolas尼古拉斯Ní gǔ lā sī 
Eric埃里克Āi lǐ kè艾瑞克
Jonathan乔纳森Qiáo nà sēn 
Stephen史蒂芬Shǐ dì fēn斯蒂芬
Larry拉里Lā lǐ 
Justin贾斯丁Jiǎ sī dīng贾斯汀
Scott斯科特Sī kē tè 
Brandon    布兰登Bù lán dēng布兰顿
Benjamin本杰明Běn jié míng 
Samuel塞缪尔Sài miù ěr萨缪尔; 萨穆埃尔
Gregory格里高利Gé lǐ gāo lì 
Frank弗兰克Fú lán kè 
Alexander亚历山大Yà lì shān dà 
Raymond雷蒙德Léi méng dé 
Patrick帕特里克Pà tè lǐ kè 
Jack杰克Jié kè 
Dennis丹尼斯Dān ní sī 
Jerry    杰瑞Jié ruì 
Tyler泰勒Tài lè 
Aaron亚伦Yà lún艾伦
Jose何塞Hé sài约瑟; 荷西
Adam亚当Yà dāng 
Henry亨利Hēng lì 
Nathan内森Nèi sēn南森
Douglas道格拉斯Dào gé lā sī 
Zachary扎克瑞Zhā kè ruì扎卡里
Peter彼得Bǐ dé 
Kyle    凯尔Kǎi ěr 
Walter沃尔特Wò ěr tè瓦尔特
Ethan伊桑Yī sāng伊森
Jeremy杰里米Jié lǐ mǐ杰瑞米
Harold哈罗德Hā luó dé 
Keith凯斯Kǎi sī基斯; 基思
Christian克里斯蒂安Kè lǐ sī dì ān克里斯丁
Roger罗杰Luó jié 
Noah诺亚Nuò yà 
Gerald杰拉德Jié lā dé杰拉尔德
Carl    卡尔Kǎ ěr 
Terry特里Tè lǐ特瑞
Sean肖恩Xiāo ēn 
Austin奥斯丁Ào sī dīng奥斯汀
Arthur亚瑟Yà sè 
Lawrence劳伦斯Láo lún sī 
Jesse杰西Jié xī 
Dylan迪伦Dí lún狄伦
Bryan布莱恩Bù lái ēn布赖恩
JoeQiáo 
Jordan乔丹Qiáo dān 
Billy比利Bǐ lì 
Bruce布鲁斯Bù lǔ sī 
Albert阿尔伯特Ā ěr bó tè 
Willie威利Wēi lì 
Gabriel加布里埃尔Jiā bù lǐ āi ěr 
Logan罗根Luó gēn洛根
Alan阿伦Ā lún阿兰
Juan胡安Hú ān 
Wayne韦恩Wéi ēn 
Roy罗伊Luó yī 
Ralph拉尔夫Lā ěr fū拉夫
Randy兰迪Lán dí 
Eugene尤金Yóu jīn 
Vincent文森特Wén sēn tè 
Russel罗素Luó sù拉塞尔
Elijah伊利亚Yī lì yà伊莱贾
Louis路易斯Lù yì sī 
Bobby博比Bó bǐ波比; 鲍比
Philip菲利普Fēi lì pǔ 
Johnny约翰尼Yuē hàn ní强尼

Common Female English Names in Chinese

As for the translations of female English names, elegant characters reflecting feminine attributes are often used to transcribe the names. Some top occurring characters in female names include 丽 (lì) – “beautiful”, 莉 (lì) – “Jasmine”, 娜 (nà) – “graceful”, 妮 (nī) – “young girl”, and 琳 (lín) – “beautiful jade”.

Here’s the list of the 100 most common English names for girls written in Chinese.

English NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
Mary玛丽Mǎ lì玛莉
Patricia帕特里西娅Pà tè lì xià帕特丽夏; 派翠西亚
Jennifer珍妮佛Zhēn nī fú詹妮弗
Linda琳达Lín dá 
Elizabeth伊丽莎白Yī lì shā bái 
Barbara芭芭拉Bā bā lā 
Susan苏珊Sū shān 
Jessica杰西卡Jié xī kǎ杰茜卡; 洁西卡
Sarah莎拉Shā lā萨拉
Karen  凯伦Kǎi lún 
Nancy南希Nán xī 
Lisa丽莎Lì shā丽萨
Betty贝蒂Bèi dì 
Margaret玛格丽特Mǎ gé lì tè 
Sandra桑德拉Sāng dé lā 
Ashley阿什莉Ā shí lì艾希礼
Kimberly金伯莉Jīn bó lì金伯利
Emily艾米莉Ài mǐ lì艾米丽
Donna唐娜Táng nà 
Michelle   米歇尔Mǐ xiē ěr米雪儿; 蜜雪儿
Dorothy多萝西Duō luó xī桃乐西
Carol卡萝尔Kǎ luó ěr卡罗尔; 卡洛尔
Amanda阿曼达Ā màn dá 
Melissa梅丽莎Méi lì shā 
Deborah黛博拉Dài bó lā底波拉
Stephanie史黛芙妮Shǐ dài fú nī斯蒂芬妮
Rebecca丽贝卡Lì bèi kǎ瑞贝卡
Sharon莎伦Shā lún莎朗; 雪伦
Laura劳拉Láo lā 
Cynthia   辛西娅Xīn xī yà 
Kathleen  凯瑟琳Kǎi sè lín凯思琳
Amy艾米Ài mǐ 
Shirley雪莉Xuě lì 
Angela安吉拉Ān jí lā 
Helen海伦Hǎi lún 
Anna安娜Ān nà 
Brenda布兰达Bù lán dá布伦达
Pamela帕梅拉Pà méi lā帕米拉
Nicole妮可Nī kě尼科尔
Emma   艾玛Ài mǎ爱玛
Samantha萨曼莎Sà màn shā 
Katherine凯瑟琳Kǎi sè lín凯萨琳
Christine克里斯蒂娜Kè lǐ sī dì nà克里斯汀
Debra黛博拉Dài bó lā黛布拉
Rachel蕾切尔Lěi qiè ěr瑞吉儿; 瑞秋
Catherine凯瑟琳Kǎi sè lín凯萨琳
Carolyn卡洛琳Kǎ luò lín卡罗琳
Janet珍妮特Zhēn nī tè 
Ruth露丝Lù sī鲁斯
Maria玛丽亚Mǎ lì yà玛莉亚; 玛丽娅
Heather希瑟Xī sè海瑟
Diane戴安娜Dài ān nà戴安; 黛安娜
Virginia弗吉尼亚Fú jí ní yà 
Julie朱莉Zhū lì朱丽
Joyce乔伊斯Qiáo yī sī 
Victoria维多利亚Wéi duō lì yà维多利娅
Olivia奥利维亚Ào lì wéi yà奥利维娅
Kelly凯丽Kǎi lì凯莉
Christina克里斯蒂娜Kè lǐ sī dì nà 
Lauren   劳伦Láo lún 
JoanQióng 
Evelyn伊芙琳Yī fú lín伊夫林
Judith朱迪思Zhū dí sī朱迪斯; 茱蒂丝
Megan梅根Méi gēn 
Cheryl谢丽尔Xiè lì ěr谢莉尔
Andrea安德莉亚Ān dé lì yà安德烈娅
Hannah汉娜Hàn nà 
Martha玛莎Mǎ shā 
Jacqueline杰奎琳Jié kuí lín 
Frances  弗朗西丝Fú lǎng xī sī弗兰西丝
Gloria格罗丽娅Gé luó lì yà歌莉娅
AnnĀn 
Teresa特蕾莎Tè lěi shā特丽莎
Kathryn凯瑟琳Kǎi sè lín凯思琳
Sara莎拉Shā lā萨拉
Janice珍妮丝Zhēn nī sī詹妮丝
JeanZhēn吉恩
Alice爱丽丝Ài lì sī爱丽斯; 艾莉丝
Madison麦迪逊Mài dí xùn 
Doris多丽丝Duō lì sī桃瑞丝
Abigail阿比盖尔Ā bǐ gài ěr 
Julia茱莉亚Zhū lì yà茱莉娅
Judy朱迪Zhū dí 
Grace格蕾丝Gé lěi sī 
Denise丹妮丝Dān nī sī丹妮斯
Amber艾梅柏Ài méi bó安柏
Marilyn玛丽莲Mǎ lì lián玛莉莲
Beverly贝弗莉Bèi fú lì贝弗利
Danielle丹妮尔Dān nī ěr 
Theresa特蕾莎Tè lěi shā特丽莎
Sophia索菲亚Suǒ fēi yà索菲娅
Marie玛丽Mǎ lì玛莉
Diana戴安娜Dài ān nà黛安娜
Brittany布里特妮Bù lǐ tè nī布里塔妮; 布列塔尼
Natalie娜塔莉Nà tǎ lì娜塔丽
Isabella伊莎贝拉Yī shā bèi lā 
Charlotte夏洛特Xià luò tè 
Rose露丝Lù sī萝丝
Alexis亚历克西斯Yà lì kè xī sī阿莱克西斯
Kayla凯拉Kǎi lā 

Spanish Names in Chinese

Although in the majority of cases, the Chinese characters which are used to transcribe a certain name hardly change at all between Spanish to Chinese and English to Chinese, there are other occasions when there is a big difference which makes the name almost unrecognizable if you do not know already how the name is pronounced in original Spanish.

For instance,

The Spanish name “Jorge” is translated as 豪尔赫 (Háo ěr hè) in Chinese based on its Spanish pronunciation, while an Englishman named “Jorge” would be called 乔治 (Qiáo zhì) instead since English speakers would say “George” for “Jorge”.

Now, learn your Chinese name with this list of common Spanish names and their Chinese translations. They’re ordered by gender and popularity and are translated into Chinese based on the Spanish pronunciation.

Spanish NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
José何塞Hé sài约瑟; 荷西
Luis路易斯Lù yì sī 
Carlos卡洛斯Kǎ luò sī 
Juan胡安Hú ān 
Jorge豪尔赫Háo ěr hè乔治
Pedro佩德罗Pèi dé luó 
Jesús赫苏斯Hè sū sī 
Manuel曼努埃尔Màn nǔ āi ěr马努埃尔
Santiago圣地亚哥Shèng dì yà gē桑蒂亚哥
Sebastián塞巴斯蒂安Sài bā sī dì ān塞巴斯汀
Matías马蒂亚斯Mǎ dì yà sī 
Nicolás尼古拉斯Ní gǔ lā sī 
Samuel塞缪尔Sài miù ěr萨缪尔; 萨穆埃尔
Alejandro亚历杭德罗Yà lì háng dé luó亚历山大
Mateo马特奥Mǎ tè ào马蒂奥
Diego迭戈Dié gē 
Benjamín本杰明Běn jié míng 
Daniel丹尼尔Dān ní ěr 
Joaquín华金Huá jīn 
Tomás托马斯Tuō mǎ sī 
Pablo巴勃罗Bā bó luó 
Lucas卢卡斯Lú kǎ sī 
Martín马丁Mǎ dīng 
Emmanuel埃曼努埃尔Āi màn nǔ āi ěr伊曼纽尔
Alexander亚历山大Yà lì shān dà 
Sofía索菲亚Suǒ fēi yà索菲娅
Valentina瓦伦蒂娜Wǎ lún dì nà 
Isabella伊莎贝拉Yī shā bèi lā 
Camila卡米拉Kǎ mǐ lā 
Valeria瓦莱里娅Wǎ lái lǐ yà瓦乐瑞亚
Mariana玛丽安娜Mǎ lì ān nà玛莉安娜
Gabriela加布里埃拉Jiā bù lǐ āi lā 
Sara莎拉Shā lā萨拉
Daniella丹妮埃拉Dān nī āi lā丹妮拉; 达尼埃拉
María José玛丽亚·何塞Mǎ lì yà · Hé sài玛莉亚·何塞
Victoria维多利亚Wéi duō lì yà 
Martina玛蒂娜Mǎ dì nà 
Luciana露西安娜Lù xī ān nà卢西亚娜
Ximena西梅娜Xī méi nà西米娜
María Fernanda玛丽亚·费尔南达Mǎ lì yà · Fèi ěr nán dá玛莉亚·费尔南达
Lucía露西亚Lù xī yà卢西亚, 露西娅
Natalia娜塔莉亚Nà tǎ lì yà纳塔莉亚
Catalina卡塔琳娜Kǎ tǎ lín nà卡特琳娜
Mía米亚Mǐ yà米娅
Fernanda费尔南达Fèi ěr nán dá 
Nicole妮可Nī kě尼科尔
Julieta茱莉塔Zhū lì tǎ朱丽塔
Abril阿比蕊儿Ā bǐ ruǐ ér阿布里
Samantha萨曼莎Sà màn shā 
Paula宝拉Bǎo lā保拉

French Names in Chinese

Below is a list of the most common French names translated into Chinese by pronunciation, ordered by popularity.

As with English names, different characters have been assigned to reflect the pronunciation of the French name, of which some are officially endorsed by Xinhua News Agency and others organically occurred back when French novels were first translated into Chinese (prior to the founding of PRC).

For instance, the first name of the French actor Jean Reno is translated as 让 (Ràng) in Chinese, while the “Jean” in “Jean Valjean”, the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel Les Misérables, is translated as 冉 (Rǎn).

French NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
JeanRàng尚; 冉
Marie玛丽Mǎ lì玛莉
Michel米歇尔Mǐ xiē ěr 
Claude克劳德Kè láo dé克洛德
Dominique多米尼克Duō mǐ ní kè多米妮可 (female)
Philippe菲利普Fēi lì pǔ 
Francis弗朗西斯Fú lǎng xī sī 
Pierre皮埃尔Pí āi ěr 
Alain阿兰Ā lán 
Nathalie娜塔莉Nà tǎ lì娜塔丽
Bernard伯纳德Bó nà dé贝尔纳德
Isabelle伊莎贝尔Yī shā bèi ěr 
Andre安德烈Ān dé liè安德列
Patrick帕特里克Pà tè lǐ kè 
Catherine凯瑟琳Kǎi sè lín凯萨琳
Daniel丹尼尔Dān ní ěr 
Jacques雅克Yǎ kè贾克
Sylvie西尔维Xī ěr wéi希尔薇
Christian克里斯蒂安Kè lǐ sī dì ān克里斯丁
Eric埃里克Āi lǐ kè艾瑞克
Thierry蒂埃里Dì āi lǐ 
Christophe克里斯托弗Kè lǐ sī tuō fú克里斯多夫
Laurent劳伦特Láo lún tè劳伦; 罗朗
Pascal帕斯卡Pà sī kǎ 
Rene雷内Léi nèi蕾妮 (female)
Monique莫妮克Mò nī kè莫尼克
Christine克里斯蒂娜Kè lǐ sī dì nà克里斯汀
Joseph约瑟夫Yuē sè fū 
Olivier奥利维尔Ào lì wéi ěr奥利维耶; 奥利维埃
Martine玛蒂娜Mǎ dì nà 
Anne安妮Ān nī 
Nicolas尼古拉斯Ní gǔ lā sī 
Robert罗伯特Luó bó tè 
Sandrine桑德琳Sāng dé lín 
Valerie瓦莱丽Wǎ lái lì瓦莱莉
Jean-Pierre让·皮埃尔Ràng · Pí āi ěr尚·皮埃尔
David大卫Dà wèi戴维
Jacqueline杰奎琳Jié kuí lín 
Roger罗杰Luó jié 
Sophie索菲Suǒ fēi苏菲
Guy居伊Jū yī 
Jean-Claude让·克劳德Ràng · Kè láo dé尚·克劳德
Didier迪迪埃Dí dí āi迪迪尔
Bruno布鲁诺Bù lǔ nuò 
Nicole妮可Nī kě尼科尔
Marcel马塞尔Mǎ sài ěr 
Marc马克Mǎ kè马可
Yves伊夫Yī fū 
Georges乔治Qiáo zhì 
Serge塞尔吉Sài ěr jí瑟杰

German Names in Chinese

All German names can be rendered into Chinese sounds and assigned their characters too. Below is a collection of the most common German names for males and females written in Chinese characters, complete with Pinyin Romanization and their common variant forms.

German NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
Peter彼得Bǐ dé 
Michael迈克尔Mài kè ěr 
Wolfgang沃夫冈Wò fū gāng沃尔夫冈
Thomas托马斯Tuō mǎ sī 
Klaus克劳斯Kè láo sī 
Werner维尔纳Wéi ěr nà沃纳
Manfred曼弗雷德Màn fú léi dé曼菲德
Ursula厄休拉È xiū lā乌苏拉
Maria玛丽亚Mǎ lì yà玛莉亚
Hans汉斯Hàn sī 
Heinz海因茨Hǎi yīn cí海因兹
Andreas安德烈亚斯Ān dé liè yà sī安德烈斯
Jürgen尤尔根Yóu ěr gēn 
Monika莫妮卡Mò nī kǎ莫尼卡
Helmut赫尔穆特Hè ěr mù tè海尔姆特
Gerhard格哈德Gé hā dé格哈特
Petra佩特拉Pèi tè lā 
Günter君特Jūn tè金特
Renate蕾娜特Lěi nà tè雷纳特
Helga海尔格Hǎi ěr gé赫尔加
Karin卡琳Kǎ lín卡林
Dieter迪特尔Dí tè ěr迪特
Horst霍斯特Huò sī tè 
Sabine萨比娜Sà bǐ nà 
Brigitte布丽奇特Bù lì qí tè布里吉特
Josef约瑟夫Yuē sè fū 
Ingrid英格丽Yīng gé lì英格丽德
Elisabeth伊丽莎白Yī lì shā bái 
Frank弗兰克Fú lán kè 
Andrea安德莉亚Ān dé lì yà安德烈娅
Gisela吉塞拉Jí sài lā 
Walter沃尔特Wò ěr tè瓦尔特
Bernd伯恩德Bó ēn dé贝恩德
Erika艾莉卡Ài lì kǎ艾丽卡
Karl卡尔Kǎ ěr 
Christa克丽斯塔Kè lì sī tǎ克里斯塔
Claudia克劳迪娅Kè láo dí yà克劳蒂娅
Herbert赫伯特Hè bó tè贺伯特; 赫尔伯特
Martin马丁Mǎ dīng 
Birgit比吉特Bǐ jí tè 
Christine克里斯蒂娜Kè lǐ sī dì nà克里斯汀
Susanne苏珊娜Sū shān nà 
Christian克里斯蒂安Kè lǐ sī dì ān克里斯丁
Stefan史蒂芬Shǐ dì fēn斯蒂芬; 史提芬
Heike海可Hǎi kě 
Franz弗兰兹Fú lán zī弗朗兹; 弗朗茨
Elke埃尔克Āi ěr kè 
Uwe乌韦Wū wéi 
Barbara芭芭拉Bā bā lā 
Karl-Heinz卡尔·海因茨Kǎ ěr · Hǎi yīn cí卡尔·海因兹

Italian Names in Chinese

And finally, for our Italian readers, here’s a list of the most popular Italian names written in Chinese. You can see that the characters selected to transcribe the names are aimed to produce a close approximation in sound to their Italian originals.

German NameName in ChinesePinyin PronunciationCommon Variants
Leonardo莱昂纳多Lái áng nà duō李奥纳多
Francesco弗朗切斯科Fú lǎng xī sī kē弗朗西斯科
Alessandro亚历桑德罗Yà lì sāng dé luó亚历山德罗
Lorenzo洛伦佐Luò lún zuǒ 
Mattia马蒂亚Mǎ dì yà 
Andrea安德烈Ān dé liè安德列
Gabriele加布里埃尔Jiā bù lǐ āi ěr 
Riccardo里卡多Lǐ kǎ duō 
Tommaso托马索Tuō mǎ suǒ 
Edoardo爱德华多Ài dé huá duō 
Marco马可Mǎ kě马科
Giuseppe朱塞佩Zhū sài pèi乔治白
Flavio弗拉维奥Fú lā wéi ào 
Luca卢卡Lú kǎ 
Giovanni乔瓦尼Qiáo wǎ ní乔凡尼; 吉奥瓦尼
Roberto罗伯托Luó bó tuō 
Stefano斯蒂法诺Sī dì fǎ nuò史蒂芬劳
Angelo安杰洛Ān jié luò安吉洛
Mario马里奥Mǎ lǐ ào 
Luigi路易吉Lù yì jí路易基
Antonio安东尼奥Ān dōng ní ào 
Vincenzo文森佐Wén sēn zuǒ 
Pietro彼得罗Bǐ dé luó 
Salvotore塞尔瓦托Sài ěr wǎ tuō萨尔瓦托
Carlo卡罗Kǎ luó卡洛
Sophia索菲亚Suǒ fēi yà索菲娅
Guilia茱莉亚Zhū lì yà茱莉娅
Aurora奥萝拉Ào luó lā欧若拉
Alice爱丽丝Ài lì sī爱丽斯; 艾莉丝
Ginevra吉妮弗拉Jí nī fú lā吉内芙拉
Emma艾玛Ài mǎ爱玛
Giorgia乔治娅Qiáo zhì yà乔琪亚
Greta格蕾塔Gé lěi tǎ 
Beatrice比阿特丽斯Bǐ ā tè lì sī碧翠斯
Anna安娜Ān nà 
Maria玛丽亚Mǎ lì yà玛莉亚
Sara莎拉Shā lā萨拉
Laura劳拉Láo lā 
Valentina瓦伦蒂娜Wǎ lún dì nà 
Rosa罗莎Luó shā罗萨
Gianna吉安娜Jí ān nà 
Giuseppina朱塞平娜Zhū sài píng nà 
Angela安吉拉Ān jí lā 
Giovanna乔凡娜Qiáo fán nà 
Stella斯特拉Sī tè lā 
Teresa特蕾莎Tè lěi shā特丽莎
Lucia露西亚Lù xī yà露西娅; 卢西亚
Carmela卡梅拉Kǎ méi lā卡蜜拉
Caterina卡特琳娜Kǎ tè lín nà卡泰丽娜
Francesca弗朗切丝卡Fú lǎng xī sī kǎ弗朗西丝卡

Name in Chinese Converter

If your name is not popular enough to crack the top name lists, or, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can use an online name tool to convert your name into Chinese. Chinese Gratis, for example, can autogenerate a name in Chinese for you instantly after you input your name on their web page.

The good thing about the tool is that it allows you to submit your gender as well as the linguistic origin of your name, thus you can get a gender-appropriate name in Chinese based on the pronunciation of your name in your native language.

But remember, whichever name converter you use (and however reliable it claims to be), you must check your name in Chinese with a native speaker. Even though the Chinese transliteration is aimed to stay as close as possible to the original pronunciation of your name, some character combinations autogenerated by the systems just sound weird for Chinese people. Plus, since Chinese characters have multiple meanings, it’s hard to avoid amusing coincidences, especially when your name is long and uncommon. So, double-check with native speakers to be sure!  

Bonus: Western Celebrities’ Names in Chinese

celebrity names in Chinese

From political leaders to sports stars, did you know that Chinese media has given an official Chinese name to each and every one of the influential western celebrities? Find out how to say and write the names of the world’s most famous people in Chinese with the help of the chart below.   

English NameName in ChinesePinyin Pronunciation
Donald Trump唐纳德·特朗普Táng nà dé · Tè lǎng pǔ
Joe Biden乔·拜登Qiáo · Bài dēng
Kamala Harris卡玛拉·哈里斯Kǎ mǎ lā · Hā lǐ sī
Barack Obama贝拉克·奥巴马Bèi lā kè · Ào bā mǎ
Boris Johnson鲍里斯·约翰逊Bào lǐ sī · Yuē hàn xùn
Bill Gates比尔·盖茨Bǐ ěr · Gài cí
Elon Musk埃隆·马斯克Āi lóng · Mǎ sī kè
Steve Jobs史蒂夫·乔布斯Shǐ dì fū · Qiáo bù sī
Mark Zuckerberg马克·扎克伯格Mǎ kè · Zhā kè bó gé
Jeff Bezos杰夫·贝索斯Jié fū · Bèi suǒ sī
Anthony Fauci安东尼·福奇Ān dōng ní · Fú qí
Stephen Hawking斯蒂芬·霍金Sī dì fēn · Huò jīn
Stephen Spielberg史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格Shǐ dì wén · Sī pí ěr bó gé
Tom Hanks汤姆·汉克斯Tāng mǔ · Hàn kè sī
Tom Cruise汤姆·克鲁斯Tāng mǔ · Kè lǔ sī
Brad Pitt布拉德·皮特Bù lā dé · Pí tè
Hugh Jackman休·杰克曼Xiū · Jié kè màn
Leonardo DiCaprio莱昂纳多·迪卡普里奥Lái áng nà duō · Dí kǎ pǔ lǐ ào
Ben Affleck本·阿弗莱克Běn · Ā fú lái kè
Benedict Cumberbatch本尼迪克特·康伯巴奇Běn ní dí kè tè · Kāng bó bā qí
Robert Downey Jr.小罗伯特·唐尼xiǎo Luó bó tè · Táng ní
Johnny Depp约翰尼·德普Yuē hàn ní · Dé pǔ
Goerge Clooney乔治·克鲁尼Qiáo zhì · Kè lǔ ní
Dwayne Johnson道恩·强森Dào ēn · Qiáng sēn
Will Smith威尔·史密斯Wēi ěr · Shǐ mì sī
Kayne West坎耶·维斯特Kǎn yé · Wéi sī tè
Justin Bieber贾斯汀·比伯Jiǎ sī tīng · Bǐ bó
Justin Timberlake贾斯汀·汀布莱克Jiǎ sī tīng · Tīng bù lái kè
Oprah Winfrey奥普拉·温弗瑞Ào pǔ lā · Wēn fú ruì
Jennifer Aniston詹妮弗·安妮斯顿Zhān nī fú · Ān nī sī dùn
Jennifer Lopez詹妮弗·洛佩兹Zhān nī fú · Luò pèi zī
Taylor Swift泰勒·斯威夫特Tài lè · Sī wēi fū tè
Adele阿黛尔Ā dài ěr
Rihanna蕾哈娜Lěi hā nà
Beyoncé碧昂丝Bì áng sī
Anne Hathaway安妮·海瑟薇Ān nī · hǎi sè wēi
Angelina Jolie安吉丽娜·朱莉Ān jí lì nà · Zhū lì
Nicole Kidman妮可·基德曼Nī kě · Jī dé màn
Emma Stone艾玛·斯通Ài mǎ · Sī tōng
Emma Watson艾玛·沃特森Ài mǎ · Wò tè sēn
Scarlett Johanssen斯嘉丽·约翰逊Sī jiā lì · Yuē hàn xùn
Sophie Marceau苏菲·玛索Sū fēi · Mǎ suǒ
Britney Spears布兰妮·斯皮尔斯Bù lán nī · Sī pí ěr sī
Kim Kardashian金·卡戴珊Jīn · Kǎ dài shān
Kylie Jenner凯莉·詹娜Kǎi lì · Zhān nà
Billie Eilish比莉·艾利什Bǐ lì · Ài lì shí
Ariana Grande爱莉安娜·格兰德Ài lì ān nà · Gé lán dé
Selena Gomez赛琳娜·戈麦斯Sài lín nà · Gē mài sī
Kate Perry凯蒂·佩里Kǎi dì · Pèi lǐ
Demi Lavato黛米·洛瓦托Dài mǐ · Luò wǎ tuō
David Beckham大卫·贝克汉姆Dà wèi · Bèi kè hàn mǔ
Leo Messi里奥·梅西Lǐ ào · Méi xī
Christiano Ronaldo克里斯蒂亚诺·罗纳尔多Kè lǐ sī dì yà nuò · Luó nà ěr duō
Neymar内马尔Nèi mǎ ěr
Michael Jordan迈克尔·乔丹Mài kè ěr · Qiáo dān
Mike Tyson迈克·泰森Mài kè · Tài sēn 
LeBron James勒布朗·詹姆斯Lè bù lǎng · Zhān mǔ sī
Tom Brady汤姆·布雷迪Tāng mǔ · Bù léi dí
Roger Federer罗杰·费德勒Luó jié · Fèi dé lè
Usain Bolt尤塞恩·博尔特Yóu sāi ēn · Bó ěr tè

Different Names in Chinese: Mainland China vs Hong Kong vs Taiwan

China vs Hong Kong vs Taiwan

So far, we’ve been looking at how the foreign names are said and written in standard Mandarin used in Mainland China. Although the languages spoken in Hong Kong (Cantonese) and Taiwan (Taiwanese Mandarin) are of the same origin, there are substantial differences in many name translations between the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan due to the different historical and cultural backgrounds and the influence of dialects.

For example, different names are given to these people on Chinese-language media platforms in the three regions:

  • Ronaldo
    Mainland China: 罗纳尔多 (Luó nà ěr duō)
    Hong Kong: 郎拿度 (Láng ná dù)
    Taiwan: 郎拿度 (Láng ná dù)
  • Reagon
    Mainland China: 里根 (Lǐ gēn)
    Hong Kong: 列根 (Liè gēn)
    Taiwan: 雷根 (Léi gēn)
  • Mrs Thatcher
    Mainland China: 撒切尔夫人 (Sā qiè ěr fūrén)
    Hong Kong: 戴卓尔夫人 (Dài zhuó ěr fūrén)
    Taiwan: 柴契尔夫人 (Chái qì ěr fūrén)

In Mainland China, transcription of foreign names has been standardized by the Proper Names and Translation Service of the state-run Xinhua News Agency. There is a “palette” of about 500 pre-selected Chinese characters to choose from – ones that are recognizable and inoffensive.

Generally, there are two characteristics in the translation of foreign name in mainland China:

1. Chinese surnames are typically avoided, and only transliteration is used. Therefore, very few names begin with a common Chinese surname. In doing so, the name maintains a “foreign favor” to it, making it easier for people to identify that it’s a foreign name. 

2. Neutral characters are favored when translating famous people’s names, and combinations of characters that can easily form special meanings are avoided. For instance, 尼克松 (Ní kè sōng) – Nixon, 克林顿 (Kè lín dùn) – Clinton, 肯尼迪 (Kěn ní dí) – Kennedy – the characters chosen to form these names are all very neutral, and the character combinations don’t convey any actual meaning.  

Hong Kong and Taiwan are different.

First of all, Chinese surnames are often included in foreign names, even though they don’t bear too much resemblance to the original sounds. 

For example, Hong Kong gave Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair a very Chinese-sounding name “彭雪玲 Peng Xueling” (彭 is a common Chinese surname). Taiwan has adopted the same approach, giving Barack Obama a typical Chinese surname 欧 (Ōu) and name him 欧巴马 (Ōu bā mǎ). (In mainland China, Obama is called 奥巴马 Ào Bā Mǎ, and 奥 is not a Chinese surname).

Secondly, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, some syllables in names are dropped entirely during the translation process for brevity, while in mainland China, you can almost expect every syllable or phoneme to be fully pronounced.

Compare the different Chinese versions of these names:

  • Donald Trump
    Mainland China: 唐纳德·特朗普 (Táng nà dé · Tè lǎng pǔ)
    Hong Kong: 唐纳·川普 (Táng nà · Chuān pǔ)
    Taiwan: 唐纳·川普 (Táng nà · Chuān pǔ)
  • Johnson
    Mainland China: 约翰逊 (Yuē hàn xùn)
    Hong Kong: 詹森 (Zhān sēn)
    Taiwan: 詹森 (Zhān sēn)
  • Eisenhower
    Mainland China: 艾森豪威尔 (Ài sēn háo wēi ěr)
    Hong Kong: 艾森豪 (Ài sēn háo)
    Taiwan: 艾森豪 (Ài sēn háo)

Thirdly, for famous female figures, Hong Kong and Taiwan tend to adopt feminine names. For example, Hong Kong and Taiwan translate the name of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary (Clinton) as 希拉蕊 (Xī lā ruǐ), with 蕊 (ruǐ) meaning “flower bud”, and Michelle (Obama) as 蜜雪儿 (Mì xuě ér), with 蜜雪 (mì xuě) meaning “honeydew snow”. In mainland China, however, neutral characters would be used when it comes to translating the names of female politicians or scientists to given the names a sense of seriousness.

How to Say Your Name in Chinese

say name in Chinese

Now you’ve known how to write your name in Chinese script, let’s talk about how you can actually say your name in Chinese.

Before we get into the various ways of introducing yourself in Chinese, here is one crucial thing you always need to keep in mind:

Chinese is a tonal language. If you change the tone of your name in Chinese, it will likely become another word with a different meaning! For instance,  杰克 (Jié kè) is “Jack” in Chinese, but 接客 (jiē kè) means “accommodate guests”, while 解渴 (jiě kě) means “quench thirst” and 皆可 (jiē kě) – “it’s all good”. They are just one tone apart! So pay close attention to the tones when you say your name out loud.

If you want to master your Chinese pronunciation, We suggest you start with the Pinyin system. It’s an incredibly useful tool for foreigners to learn the sound of Chinese using the Roman alphabet. We’ve written a detailed guide to help you get started. Read more about Pinyin.

My Name is … in Chinese

No matter how little Chinese you know, it’s easy to introduce yourself to someone who speaks Chinese. Here are six ways you can say “my name is…” in Chinese:

1. 我叫…

Pronunciation: Wǒ jiào …
Literally, “I am called …”

When you want to introduce yourself to Chinese speakers, the most natural way to say your name in Chinese is to start with 我叫 (Wǒ jiào) and then follow it up with your name. In this sentence, 我 (wǒ) is the personal pronoun “I”, and 叫 (jiào) is a versatile verb, meaning “be called” here. So this sentence can be translated to “I am called…”.

With this expression, you can either introduce yourself with your full name or just your first name, though in formal situations such as a business setting, you’ll more likely need to say your full name in Chinese.

For example:

  • 我叫詹姆斯·布雷迪
    Wǒ jiào Zhān mǔ sī · Bù léi dí.
    My name is James Brady.
    Literally, “I am called James Brady.” 

Since the full name is a direct translation from English and not a Chinese name per se, you don’t need to reverse the order to comply with the “family name + given name” Chinese name structure. You still say your first name before your last name.

2. 我是…

Pronunciation: Wǒ shì …
Literally, “I am …”

Another easy and popular way of saying your name in Chinese is to start with 我是 (Wǒ shì) followed by your name. 是 (shì) is the verb “to be”, so it’s just like saying “I am…” in English.

3. 我的名字叫…

Pronunciation: Wǒ de míngzi jiào …
Literally, “My name is called …”

4. 我的名字是…

Pronunciation: Wǒ de míngzi shì …
Literally, “My name is …”

It’s usually fine to say your name in Chinese with either format, beginning the self-introduction with 我叫 (Wǒ jiào) or 我是 (Wǒ shì), but in some situations, you might want to add a formal element to the name introduction and make the statement longer. To do so, simply replace 我 (wǒ) with the phrase 我的名字 (wǒ de míngzi) – “my name”. Again, you can say your full name or just your first name afterward, depending on how serious you want to make yourself sound.

5. 我的中文名字叫…

Pronunciation: Wǒ de Zhōngwén míngzi jiào …
Literally, “My Chinese name is called …”

6. 我的中文名字是…

Pronunciation: Wǒ de Zhōngwén míngzi shì …
Literally, “My Chinese name is …”

If you want to be specific that you’re giving your name in Chinese, you can add the word 中文 (Zhōngwén), which means “Chinese”, before 名字 (míngzi) – “name” in the previous sentences. This is also good for establishing preference, letting people know that you prefer to be addressed by your name in Chinese.

“What Is Your Name” in Chinese

Now that you know how to say your name and introduce yourself, let’s learn how to properly ask someone their name in Chinese as well. This will come in handy when your meet new Chinese friends or colleagues.

As with any expression in Chinese, there is more than one way to ask “what’s your name” in Chinese. Here are the four most common questions we use.

1. 你叫什么名字?

Pronunciation: Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?
Literally, “You are called what name?”

The standard form of “what’s your name” in Chinese is 你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi). In this question, 什么  (shénme) is the question word, meaning “what”. So this sentence can be translated to “You are called what name?”.

This question can be used in most situations. However, when you meet senior people, it’s better to change it to 您叫什么名字?(Nín jiào shénme míngzi?) to help you sound more polite. 您 (nín) is the honorific form of 你 (nǐ), which is used to address someone who is older than you or in a more senior position than you.

2. 你叫什么?

Pronunciation: Nǐ jiào shénme?
Literally, “You are called what?”

You can omit 名字 (míngzi) after the question word 什么 (shénme) to make the question sound less formal. You can use the shortened form of “what’s your name” in casual situations.

3. 你的名字叫什么?

Pronunciation: Nǐ de míngzi jiào shénme?
Literally, “Your name is called what?”

4. 你的名字是什么?

Pronunciation: Nǐ de míngzi shì shénme?
Literally, “Your name is what?”

Two other expressions for asking someone’s name in Chinese is 你的名字叫什么?(Nǐ de míngzì jiào shénme) and 你的名字是什么?(Nǐ de míngzì shì shénme). They convey a more serious tone and you’ll most likely hear them in very formal situations, such as when you are making a transaction at a bank, and the bank staff needs to identify who you are. Generally, these formal forms are not commonly used in daily speech.

There you go! Once you have these patterns down, you’re golden. So, tell me, what’s your name in Chinese?

FAQ about Names in Chinese

English (and other European languages) and Chinese are fundamentally different languages with drastic differences in phonetics and script. Most Chinese people will have a hard time pronouncing a foreign name that’s written in letters. Translating foreign names into Chinese enables Chinese speakers to recognize, pronounce these names with ease and helps them remember the names better.

Yes, one way or another, all foreign names can be translated into Chinese and pronounced in the Chinese way, even if your name is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!

No, foreign names are customarily transliterated into Chinese by sound. You can’t use a straight translation even if your name is a common noun.

For instance, Emma Stone’s name is translated as 艾玛·斯通 (Ài mǎ · Sī tōng) – not 艾玛·石头 (Ài mǎ · Shí tou) – in Chinese, even though her last name indeed has a meaning in English.

That said, it’s okay sometimes to translate a foreign nickname or art name into Chinese based on its meaning. For example, Dwayne Johnson (Chinese: 道恩·强森; Pinyin: Dào ēn · Qiáng sēn) was nicknamed 巨石强森 (Jù shí Qiáng sēn) – meaning “Giant rock Johnson” – by his fans in China.

The reason why some people have different names in Chinese is a matter of media, with various mainstream outlets adopting different ways to transliterate a name, and without there being any clear consensus on which name to use across the board.

“First name”, “middle name” and “last name” in Chinese are 名 (míng), 中间名 (zhōngjiān míng), and 姓 (xìng), respectively.

An authentic Chinese name must consist of a 姓 (xìng) – last name (family name), and a 名 (míng) – first name (given name). The last name is usually just one character, while the first name normally comprises one or two characters (a full Chinese name must be between two and six characters in length). Besides, the first name always comes after the last name, and there is no middle name in a Chinese person’s name.

Transliterations of foreign names, however, have no restriction on the number of characters. Plus,  the characters used for transliterations are usually uncommon for Chinese names, therefore, the names translated into Chinese are often easily recognizable as foreign names on purpose.

It’s generally fine to use your transliterated name if you don’t speak Chinese or are just staying in China for a very short time. But if you want your name to sound like a typical Chinese person’s name that any native speaker could understand and remember easily, then make yourself a Chinese name. It’ll also help you build an awareness of Chinese culture! Read our guide to Choosing Your Chinese Name to get started!

According to the latest report compiled by the Ministry of Public Security of China in 2022, the most popular Chinese names now are 沐宸 (Mùchén) for boys and 若汐 (Ruòxī) for girls. Read more about the Most Popular Chinese Names (Trends in 2022 and Across the Decades).

By the way, if you’re interested in learning Chinese, we strongly recommend that you take a structured Chinese course online.

We’ve taken the time to try out dozens of Chinese courses online, some are fabulous while others are abysmal. Read our unbiased reviews here and discover our top recommendations!

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