When you first meet someone, it’s important to be able to ask what is your name in Korean. It’s good manners!
This is especially true in Korea! There are a few reasons for this:
1. You may be unfamiliar with Korean names
2. Koreans don’t always say their name up front
3. Korean is a hierarchical language, so you need to know how to address the person you’re meeting
When making Korean friends, you’ll want to know how to say what is your name in Korean. We’ll show you how!
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‘What is Your Name?’ in Korean
There are two words for ‘name’ in Korean. The most commonly used word is 이름 (ireum). This is used in most situations. Another word that you may hear is 성함 (seongham), which is the formal word for ‘name’ in Korean. You may hear this word in more official situations.
When separating family names and given names, for example on official forms, the word 이름 (ireum) is used for ‘first name’ and the word 성 (seong) is used for ‘family name’.
Formal ‘What is Your Name’ in Korean
1. 성함이 어떻게 되세요? (seonghame eoddeoke dwesaeyo?)
2. 성함이 어떻게 되십니까?(seonghami eotteoke doeshimnikka?)
Use these phrases to ask ‘what is your name’ in Korean to adults you don’t know or someone higher in the social hierarchy. For example, you might use these at a business meeting or talking to a person who is much older than you.
Some of the components are:
• 성함 = formal way of saying ‘name’ in Korean. You might hear this if you make a dentist appointment and they ask for your name
• 어떻게 = this means ‘how’ or ‘what’ in Korean
If you are talking with a public official then you will probably hear these versions of ‘What is your name?’ As this situation will come up a lot during your time in Korea, for example at the airport, immigration office, or bank, it is important to learn how to say and respond to the formal versions of ‘What is your name?’ in Korean. See below for examples of this.
A: 성함이 어떻게 되십니까? (seonghami eotteoke doeshimnikka?)
What is your name?
B: 존 스미스 입니다. (jon seumiseu imnida)
These are very formal ways of asking what is your name in Korean, so you can use them with everyone! However, if you’re talking to a small child and you’re an adult, you could also use the standard and informal versions below.
Standard ‘What is Your Name’ in Korean
1. 이름이 뭐예요? (ereume mwoyeyo?)
This is the everyday version of asking ‘what is your name’ in Korean. It’s similar to the formal version, except slightly less polite. It’s still ok to use with the majority of people.
The components of the phrase are similar. It’s made up of:
• 이름 = standard way of saying ‘name’ in Korean. This is the most common way of saying it.
• 뭐 = this is how you say ‘what’ in Korean.
Since this phrase is a standard way of asking for names, you might want to use this with people that are similar in age to you, or to those younger than you. You have to feel out the situation to know how formal you should be.
Here is an example of how to use the standard form.
A: 이름이 뭐예요? (ireumi mwoyeyo?)
What is your name?
B1: [제 이름은] 스티브예요 ([je ireumeun] Seutibeuyeyo.)
[My name is] Steve.
B2: 스티븐이에요. (seutibeunieyo.)
In general, if you’re unsure about how formal to be, stick with the higher version. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed!
Informal ‘What is Your Name’ in Korean
1. 이름이 뭐야? (ereume mwoya?)
This is how you’d ask the name of a young child. The ending is 야, which is the most informal version of the verb 이다 (to be).
2. 이름이 뭐니? (ereume mwoni?)
This is the same as #1, except the ending is different. This one is slightly more polite, but you can use either versions.
Here is an example conversation of using the informal version.
A: 강아지 귀엽지? (gangaji gwiyeopji?)
My puppy is cute, right?
B: 응, 궈여워. 이름이 뭐야? (eung, kwiyeoweo. Ireumi mwoya?)
Yeah, it’s cute. What’s its name?
A: 몽구야. (mongguya.)
Bonus ‘What is Your Name’ in Korean Phrases
When asking for someone’s name in Korean, it’s possible you’ll run into other situations where you don’t get the name right away.
Here are some helpful phrases to help you navigate those tricky situation, and make sure you make a good impression on your new friend or acquaintance!
1. 다시 말해 주세요 (dashi malhae jusaeyo)
Please say that again
If you didn’t hear the other person’s name, use this phrase to ask him or her to repeat it.
2. 철자 말해 주세요 (cheolja malhae jusaeyo)
Can you spell your name, please?
If you are having a hard time understanding the other person’s name, ask for the spelling. It might make it easier for you to remember!
3. 한국 이름이 뭐예요? (hanguk ereume mwoyeyo?)
What is your Korean name?
It’s possible that when you meet a Korean, he or she will give you his or her English name. Use this to ask ‘what is your Korean name?’
4. 만나서 반갑습니다 (mannaseo bangapseumnida)
First impressions are important! After you exchange names, makes sure you throw in a 만나서 반갑습니다 to show that you’re please to meet him or her.
Now that you know how to say what is your name in Korean, go out there and make some Korean friends!