When you meet someone new, there are many ways to start a conversation. But isn’t it awkward when you’ve been talking with someone for hours before you realize you don’t even know their name?! So why not start with that?
If you’re traveling around Latin America or Spain, asking someone’s name can be a polite and friendly ice-breaker. Here, we’ll go over all of the different ways to ask what is your name in Spanish, and how to use them in the correct contexts.
After learning how to introduce yourself, learn how to say nice to meet you in Spanish.
How to say “What is your name?” in Spanish at a Glance
Informal speech (tú):
- ¿Cómo te llamas? — Me llamo Juan (What’s your name – My name is Juan)
- ¿Cuál es tu nombre? — Mi nombre es Sandra (What’s your name – My name is Sandra)
Formal speech (usted):
- ¿Cómo se llama? — Me llamo Pedro (What’s your name? – My name is Pedro)
- ¿Cuál es su nombre? — Mi nombre es Luis (What’s your name? – My name is Luis)
What is your name in Spanish Grammar Explained
¿Cómo te llamas?
This is the most common way of asking what’s your name in Spanish. Cómo means “how”, and llamarse means, literally, “to be called”. Therefore, ¿Cómo te llamas? literally means “What are you called?”.
People could give you several answers to the question ¿Cómo te llamas? One of them is: Me llamo ___ (“I am called ___”). But they could also simply tell you: Soy ___ (“I’m ____”).
Important tip! Remember to use the personal pronoun tú when talking to someone in an informal context; generally, it has to be a person you already know well or someone around your age:
- ¡Hola! ¿Cómo te llamas? (Hello! What’s your name?)
- Hola. Me llamo Rodrigo. ¿Y tú? (Hello. My name is Rodrigo. And yours?)
But, if you are talking to a professor, your boss or an elder person, it might be appropriate to use the personal pronoun usted:
- Buenos días. Yo me llamo Norma. ¿Usted cómo se llama? (Good morning. My name is Norma. What is your name?)
- Buenos días, Norma. Me llamo Bárbara. (Good morning, Norma. My name is Bárbara)
Pro tip: If you are going to travel to Uruguay, Argentina or some regions of Colombia and Central America, keep in mind that they might use personal pronoun vos instead of tú. How do you say what is your name in Spanish using this pronoun? Let’s see an example:
- ¿Cómo te llamás? (What’s your name?)
- Me llamo Ulises, ¿y vos? (My name is Ulises, what about yours?)
Did you notice? Tú was changed to vos, and also now the verb llamar has an accent mark, which changes the pronunciation; now the second “a” is stressed, not the first one.
Read Next: 18 Ways to Say How Are You in Spanish
¿Cuál es tu nombre?
This is another way to ask someone “What is your name?” in Spanish. In fact, ¿Cuál es tu nombre? literally means “What is your name?”. In this case, the most common answer would be Mi nombre es… (“My name is…”).
In an informal situation, this could be a typical exchange:
- Disculpa, ¿cuál es tu nombre? (Excuse me, what is your name?)
- Mi nombre es Gabriel. ¿El tuyo? (My name is Gabriel. And yours?)
In a formal situation, the same dialogue would be:
- Disculpe, ¿cuál es su nombre? (Excuse me, what is your name?)
- Mi nombre es Gabriel. ¿El suyo? (My name is Gabriel. And yours?)
In the formal example, the second-person possessive pronouns tu and tuyo were changed to su and suyo. Also, the conjugated verb disculpa (“excuse me”), was changed to disculpe.
The two most common ways to ask someone’s name in Spanish are ¿Cómo te llamas? and ¿Cuál es tu nombre? Is not important which one you use —they both mean the same thing!
What you should keep in mind is the context in which the conversation takes place. You don’t want to seem out of place talking informally in a formal context; and, of course, it is not necessary to be overly formal in a friendly and casual setting.