Once you’ve got the basic greetings covered in Japanese you are ready to engage in conversations and make new friends!
When meeting someone for the first time they may ask you: anata no namae wa nan desu ka? (あなたの名前はなんですか / あなたのなまえはなんですか) meaning ‘what is your name?’. In this post, you will learn just how to respond to this question and impress others with your Japanese knowledge.
The standard way of saying ‘my name is’ in Japanese would be watashi no namae wa ○○ desu (私の名前は○○です / わたしのなまえは○○です). But it’s not always the most natural sentence, and depending on the situation at hand, there are actually a few different ways in which you could introduce yourself.
Check them out down below!
Common ways to say ‘my name is’ in Japanese
Watashi no namae wa ○○ desu
My name is ○○
The first on this list, and the most widely taught way to introduce your name in Japanese is watashi no namae wa ○○ desu.
It may seem like a mouthful, so let’s break down the sentence in order to make it more digestible!
- The pronoun watashi (私 / わたし) means ‘I’.
- No (の) is the possessive particle. Paired with watashi it implies ‘my’.
- Namae (名前 / なまえ) means ‘name’.
- The particle ha (は) means ‘is’. Remember that when ha is used as a particle it is pronounced as wa!
- You can remember desu (です) as a polite term with which you can end a sentence.
Side note: ○○ is pronounced marumaru or naninani and is used as a placeholder in Japanese. Think of it like ‘so-and-so’ in English. Be sure to insert your own name here!
Although this phrase is the textbook way to say my name is in Japanese, it is not always the most natural sounding. Let’s learn some other ways to introduce yourself in Japanese!
Watashi wa ○○ desu
I am ○○
If you want to sound a little less stiff, you could shorten the previous sentence slightly. By leaving out namae and simply stating watashi wa ○○ desu you can introduce yourself in a brief sentence while still remaining polite.
I am ○○
You can even go one step further by merely saying your name and adding desu on the end. This also means ‘I am ○○’ such as in the previous sentence.
Interestingly, in Japanese, constantly repeating watashi at the beginning of sentences comes off as repetitive and unnatural. Therefore, it’s good to switch it up. When you are speaking about yourself, the pronoun watashi or ‘I’ is implied, so sometimes you can opt to leave it out and you will be understood just the same!
Keep in mind that shortening the utterance does make it sound more casual, so be sure to use it with peers.
○○ to iimasu
My name is ○○
The verb iu (言う / いう) means ‘to say’ or in this context, ‘to call’. ○○ to iismasu (○○と言います / ○○といいます) would translate to something like ‘I am called ○○’.
In this expression, the particle to (と) ties the verb iu to the name you wish to be called.
○○ to moushimasu
My name is ○○
If you find yourself in a more formal situation where you need to be extra polite when introducing your name, you may want to say ○○ to moushimasu (○○と申します / ○○ともうします).
The verb mousu (申す / もうす) means ‘to say’ or ‘to be called’. It is essentially a humbled version of the verb iu. It is common in Japanese to use humble speech when speaking to those of a higher status as a sign of respect.
This phrase is also often used when making phone calls to indicate who is speaking on the line.
○○ to yonde kudasai
Call me ○○
The verb yobu (呼ぶ / よぶ) means ‘to call’. In this phrase, the verb is in the te (て) form, making it a request. Paired with kudasai (ください) which means ‘please’, ○○ wo yonde kudasai (を呼んでください / をよんでください) pretty much translates to ‘please, call me ○○’.
This phrase is really helpful if you have a preferred name or a nickname which you would prefer people acknowledge you as.
Watashi no namae wa Danieru desu. Danny to yonde kudasai.
My name is Daniel. Please, call me Danny.
Watashi wa ○○ to iu namae desu
My name is ○○
If you are not feeling riveted by any of the previous phrases you may choose to opt for this one. It is a kind of decorative way of saying ‘my name is ○○’ in Japanese and may be similar to phrases such as ‘I go by the name of ○○’ in English. It gives that extra oomph to your self introduction.
It may also be helpful if you have a name which may be complicated or unheard of to a Japanese person, as it can emphasise that it is in fact a name that you are introducing.
Watashi wa Madoora to iu namae desu.
Madhura is my name.
Useful things to know about names in Japanese culture
There are a few things to remember when introducing your name in Japanese which may differ from your own culture.
First of all, when stating one’s full name, the surname (or family name) often comes before the first name (or given name).
Utada Hikaru desu.
I am Hikaru Utada.
It is also common to introduce yourself, and also address others by surname only. This is particularly true in a business or academic setting. Although, in more relaxed, casual environments, first names are generally used.
In Japanese business culture, it is also customary to introduce yourself including the name of the company or organization with which you are associated.
Konnichiwa. Watashi wa Toshiba no Yamada desu.
Hello. I am Yamada, of the Toshiba company.
If you are familiar with Japanese you have probably heard honorifics being used such as -san, -chan, -kun or -sama. These are put at the end of other people’s names as a symbol of respect and can be compared to courtesy titles in English such as Mr. or Mrs.
You must remember that although other people may address you using these honorifics, you must not use them when stating your own name!
Check out this post for more on Japanese honorifics.
Writing your name in Japanese
Finally, it is important to note that if your name is not Japanese, you should write it in katakana characters.
In the Japanese language, there are three forms of script: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Hiragana is mainly used for native Japanese words and grammatical components of a sentence. Kanji are symbols from Chinese script which represent various Japanese nouns and verbs. Meanwhile, katakana is commonly used for words which have been borrowed from outside of the Japanese language.
Watashi wa Jeshika desu.
My name is Jessica.
Use this chart below to learn how to pronounce and spell your name in katakana! It will be really useful in helping a Japanese person understand your name!
Now you can say ‘my name is’ in Japanese!
As you can see, there are various ways to introduce yourself in Japanese. Any of these will get you understood and help you make new Japanese acquaintances! Just make sure you choose the appropriate level of formality for the situation.
Want to learn more basic Japanese phrases? Our top recommended course is JapanesePod101. The full complete beginners course is currently FREE for three months at this link!
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Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!