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Thread: asking names

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    asking names

    tell me in how many ways can i ask somebody his or her name,tell me formally,informally,and neauturally

    • Join Date: Aug 2009
    • Posts: 1,131

    Re: asking names

    It is my impression that people from other countries sometimes ask Americans for their names in ways that can make Americans uncomfortable.

    Some people cannot answer that question properly. The reason is that a person who is behaving mannerly must give his or her name like this: Mary Smith

    But there are many instances when the person is not to be addressed as "Mary Smith," but instead as "Ms Smith" or "Dr. Smith" or "Professor Smith."

    But it is poor manners for people to say, "My name is Professor Smith." They must say, "My name is Mary Smith" even when it makes them uncomfortable. Medical doctors have solved this problem by greeting new patients like this: "Hi. I'm Doctor Smith!" but other professions are not so adept.

    In general, I think it would be wise to avoid asking one's superiors for their names. Instead, ask another person. "What is the Professor's name?" or "What is the name of the supervisor in the Customer Care Department?"

    If I were DESPERATE and HAD to know my superior's name, I think I would end up saying, "Can you spell your last name for me? I'm not sure I heard it correctly." That will allow the person to avoid giving me his first name. If I didn't know his title, I might -- if I were DESPERATE -- ask, "Do we call you Professor S-M-I-T-H or Doctor S-M-I-T-H?"

    In the US, if anyone wants you to have their first name, they will tell you. So I don't see any particular reason to ever ask for a person's first name, and I think it would often be considered to border on rude to do so.

    - Casually, with equals and contemporaries, people say, "Hi. I'm Jason Fox" and try to let it go at that. In theory, the other person says, "Oh hi. My name is Ruth." In casual conversation with people whose status is equivalent to "friend," it doesn't make much difference how you ask for their names. "What's your last name?" would be fine for anyone you'd ask, "How many kids do you have?"

    - Asking "What's your first name?" can be embarrassing if you are presumed to already know it; sometimes people try to navigate that problem by saying, "I didn't catch your name."

    - You can always ask children directly "What's your name? What grade are you in?" You can always ask parents "What's his name?" (The same goes for pets.)

    - Secretaries avoid the problem by saying, "What name shall I say?" when they don't know the name of the person calling on the boss.

    - Service people on the phone processing customer service issues say, "Name?" as part of a list that will include "Address?" or "Order number?"

    - If you receive a letter signed "Mary Smith," you respond by writing "Dear Ms. Smith." If you are talking to someone on the phone who says, "This is Mary Smith from the Admissions Office," you address her as "Ms. Smith." In no way does this form of self-introduction imply that you are to address the person by their first name; it means only that there is no other way for them to give their name. But it is not an invitation to address them by their first name.

    I'd be highly interested in hearing more points of view on this question. I hope everyone jumps in.
    Last edited by Ann1977; 20-Oct-2009 at 10:39.

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