When you’d like to ask for someone’s name in French, you have a good number of options to choose from – which is great! There’s only one caveat: you’ll have to remember these sentences exactly as they are.
They differ in word order and a couple of other details, but they sound quite similar, so you might find they are a bit easy to mix up.
This can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s no big deal. Knowing just two of these will have you covered for a long time (and it won’t take long to commit the other ones to memory, either).
- The most common ways to ask “What’s your name?” in French
- The most polite way to ask “what’s your name?” in French
- Other formal and informal options
- Asking for a name for administrative purposes
- First name, last name, full name in French
1. The most common ways to ask “What’s your name?” in French
So grab a pen and make a note of these two sentences:
- Comment vous appelez-vous ? (using vous, both in formal and less formal situations)
- Comment tu t’appelles ? (using tu, in informal situations or when you’re asking a child)
If you’re only just starting out, knowing these two is more than enough for the time being. Nevertheless, I’d invite you to take a look at the following examples, too, because they can give you an idea about expressing yourself in a polite or informal manner in French.
If you’d like to know more about when to use the more formal vous and when to go with the familiar tu (a.k.a. vouvoiement and tutoiement), check out this article.
2. The most polite way to ask “what’s your name?” in French:
- Excusez-moi, puis-je vous demander votre nom ? = Excuse me, may I ask what your name is?
3. Other formal and informal options:
- Comment vous appelez-vous ? (formal because of the word order and the word vous)
- Comment vous vous appelez ? (less formal because of the more casual word order, still using the polite version of “you”: vous and not tu)
- Comment tu t’appelles ? (less formal because of the word order and tu)
There are some even more informal ways of asking for someone’s name, though:
- Tu t’appelles comment ? (Note that comment is placed at the end of the sentence.)
- C’est quoi ton nom ? (very informal because of C’est quoi…?)
4. Asking for a name for administrative purposes
In formal contexts (e.g., at the bank, checking in at a hotel counter, at the doctor’s, etc.), these are the most common ways of asking for a name:
- Puis-je avoir vos nom et prénom ? (literally: Can I have your last name and first name? Note that vos is the plural version of votre.)
- Donnez-moi vos nom et prénom, s’il vous plaît. (literally: Give me your last name and first name, please.)
- Quels sont vos nom et prénom? = What’s your full name?
5. First name, last name, full name in French
|votre prénom (m)||your first name, given name|
(In some contexts, nom will suffice for first name, too, when it’s obvious you mean “first name”. If you’d like to be more precise, use prénom.)
|votre nom (m)||your last name/ full name/ first name (but only if it’s clear from the context)|
|vos nom et prénom||your full name (literally: “your last name and first name”)|
First name in French: prénom
The French word prénom and “first name” in English mean the same thing, even though “first name” is a bit more formal in English than prénom is in French.
Just like with “first name” in English, you’ll come across prénom in forms where you have to fill in your personal details.
Last name or first name… but usually last: nom
Quel est ton/ votre nom ? = What’s your last name? / What’s your name?
First and foremost, nom means “last name” in French.
That being said, it can also mean “first name” depending on the situation. Context is everything: if it’s clear from the context that you mean “first name” or “given name”, you can just say nom instead of prénom. But if it’s not, use nom and people will think you meant “family name” or “surname” instead of “first name”.