How to ask someone's name & say what your name is in German

Chances are you’re learning German to have conversations with German-speakers.

While you might be rehearsing elaborate introductions for your new German coworkers or coming up with original pick-up-lines for the German acquaintance you’ve been meaning to ask out - let us stop right there. We’re about to make your life very easy.

Here’s the simplest and safest way to introduce yourself and start a conversation with any German-speaker: Hey, wie heißt du? (Hey, what’s your name?)

Learning how to introduce yourself in German is easily one of the most useful skills when you’re learning the language. It’s the first step to making friends or starting great business relationships in German - This is how you do it.

People introduce themselves at a work conference, they've learnt how to say my name is in German.

How to introduce yourself in German

The first thing you learn in German is how to say hello, and right after that, you’ll need to know how to say my name is in German. So it won’t be long before you’ll run into the following introduction phrases.

  • The most common way to introduce yourself is using the verb “heißen” (to be called): “Ich heiße __” (I am called __).
  • The verb “heißen” is an active verb in German that can also be translated as “to mean”.
  • Another way to introduce yourself is to use the German equivalent of “my name is __”: Mein Name ist __”.

My name is in German

We’ll teach you some common ways to introduce yourself in German, how to say “nice to meet you” and how to let people know if you have a preferred nickname.

English German IPA
Hello, my name is (I’m called) Johanna, and you? Hallo, ich heiße Johanna, und du? [ˈhalo, ɪç ˈhaɪ̯sə jo:hana, ʊnt du:]
Nice to meet you! My name is (I’m called) Johanna. Schön, dich kennenzulernen! Ich heiße Johanna. [ʃø:n dɪç kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən. ɪç haɪ̯szə jo:hana]
My name is Johanna. Mein Name ist Johanna. [maɪ̯n na:mə ɪst jo:hana]
My name is Johanna, and yours? Mein Name ist Johanna, und deiner? [maɪ̯n na:mə ɪst jo:hana, ʊnt daɪ̯nɐ]
I’m Johanna. Ich bin Johanna. [ɪç bɪn jo:hana]
That’s pronounced “Johanna”. Das spricht man “Johanna” aus. [das ʃpʁɪçt man jo:hana aʊ̯s]
My name is Johanna, but I prefer to be called “Hanna”. Mein Name ist Johanna, aber ich werde lieber “Hanna” genannt. [maɪ̯n na:mə ɪst jo:hana abɐ ɪç ve:ɐ̯də li:bɐ hana gənant]
My friends call me “Hanni”. Meine Freunde nennen mich “Hanni”. [maɪ̯nə fʁɔʏ̯ndə nɛnən mɪç hanɪ]
You can call me “Hanni”. Du kannst mich “Hanni nennen”. [du: kanst mɪç hanɪ nɛnən]

What is your name in German

After you’ve introduced yourself, you’re gonna want to show some interest in the other person and ask about them. “What’s your name” in German is “Wie heißt du?” or “Wie heißen Sie” when you’re talking to a stranger in a more formal way.

English German IPA
Hello, nice to meet you. Hallo, schön, dich kennenzulernen. [halo: ʃø:n dɪç kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən]
What’s your name? Wie heißt du? [vi: haɪ̯sʃt du:]
Hello, nice to meet you. (formal) Hallo, schön, Sie kennenzulernen. [halo: ʃø:n zi: kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən]
What’s your name? (formal) Wie heißen Sie? [vi: haɪ̯szən zi:]
What’s your first name? Wie ist dein Vorname? [vi: ɪst daɪ̯n fo:ɐ̯na:mə]
What’s your last name? Wie ist dein Nachname? [vi: ɪst daɪ̯n ˈnaːxˌnaːmə]
Hello, I’m __, and you? Hallo, ich bin __, und du? [halo: ɪç bɪn __ ʊnt du:]
Sorry, what was your name again? Entschuldigung, wie war noch mal dein Name? [ɛntʃʊldɪgʊŋ vi: va:ɐ̯ nɔx ma:l daɪ̯nə na:mə]
How do you spell your name? Wie schreibt man deinen Namen? [vi: ʃʁaɪ̯pt man daɪ̯nən na:mən]
Am I pronouncing that right? Spreche ich das richtig aus? [ʃpʁɛçə ɪç das ʁɪçtɪç aʊ̯s]
What a beautiful name! Was für ein hübscher Name! [vas fy:ɐ̯ aɪ̯n ˈhʏpʃɐ na:mə]

When to use “du” and “Sie” in German

When you’re introducing yourself, you might be tempted to be extra polite and use the German form “Sie” all the time. That’s a common mistake German language learners make because the form is often introduced as “the polite form” and you think, what could possibly be wrong with being polite?

The truth is, you don’t use “Sie” just to be polite. It’s too formal for most people your age, unless you’re in a formal business context or the person is an important authority figure. If you’re talking to a stranger, who is likely to stay a stranger, like the bank clerk or a one-time-only business acquaintance, you do use “Sie”.

But when you meet someone, ask yourself the following question: If we were speaking English, would I call this person by their first name or would I say “Mr./Mrs. Smith” or possibly even “Sir” or “Mam”?

If you’d call the person by their first name, just use “du” and if you’d call them by their last name and talk to them very respectfully, use “Sie”. It can be a little awkward if someone is introducing you to a friend or you’re meeting a new colleague and you try to be polite and say “Sie”.

Of course, people will be very forgiving about these things when you’re learning a language, but if you’re trying to blend in with the native speakers, this simple rule will help you.

How to introduce yourself in response

There are countless opportunities to introduce yourself. Depending on the situation and what’s been said already, you’ll want to adjust your tone slightly. Whether you’re meeting your in-laws or a stranger in a bar - here’s how you introduce yourself in different social situations.

When a colleague says hello my name is in German, you'll need to introduce yourself in response.

English German (Singular) IPA Context
I’m Paul. Nice to meet you! Ich bin Paul, schön dich kennenzulernen! [ɪç bɪn paʊ̯l ʃø:n dɪç kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən] General
Hello everyone, I’m Paul. Nice to meet you all! Hallo zusammen, ich bin Paul. Schön, euch alle kennenzulernen! [halo: t͡su:zamən ɪç bɪn paʊ̯l. ʃø:n ɔʏ̯ç alə kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən] Introducing yourself to all your new colleagues or a group of someone’s friends
I’m Paul, nice to finally meet you guys. Ich bin Paul. Schön, euch endlich kennenzulernen. [ɪç bɪn paʊ̯l. ʃø:n ɔʏ̯ç ɛntlɪç kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən] Meeting your in-laws or distant relatives in person
Hi, I’m Paul, do you come here often? Hi, ich bin Paul, kommst du öfter her? [haɪ̯ ɪç bɪn paʊ̯l kɔmst du: œftɐ he:ɐ] Meeting a stranger in a bar or other public place
I’m Paul, Mia’s friend, and you? Ich bin Paul, ein Freund von Mia, und du? [ɪç bɪn paʊ̯l aɪ̯n fʁɔʏ̯nt fɔn maɪ̯a ʊnt du:] Meeting someone in an informal private setting

His/her name is in German

We created a detailed list of how to ask for someone’s name with the respective pronoun. If you’re ever unsure which pronoun to use, feel free to refer to our fun guide to the different types of German pronouns.

English Question German Question English Answer German Answer
What’s your name? Wie heißt du? My name is Maxi. Ich heiße Maxi
What’s her name? Wie heißt sie? Her name is Anna. Sie heißt Anna
What’s his name? Wie heißt er? His name is Lukas. Er heißt Lukas
What are your names? Wie heißt ihr? Our names are Maxi, Anna and Lukas. Wir heißen Maxi, Anna und Lukas
What are their names? Wie heißen sie? Their names are Maxi, Anna and Lukas. Sie heißen Maxi, Anna und Lukas

How to introduce yourself formally in German

If your new boss is German or you’re meeting Annalena Baerbock, Germany's minister for foreign affairs, you might want to be prepared. These formal phrases will help you respectfully introduce yourself in German.

English German (Singular) IPA
My name is Clara Schreiber. It’s an honor to meet you. Mein Name ist Clara Schreiber. Es ist mir eine Ehre, Sie kennenzulernen. [maɪ̯n na:mə ɪst klaʁa ʃʁaɪ̯bɐ ɛs ɪst mi:ɐ̯ aɪ̯nə e:ʁə zi: kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən] In a very formal setting, i.e., meeting an important authority figure
Thanks for inviting me. I’m Clara. Nice to meet you. Danke für die Einladung. Ich bin Clara. Freut mich sehr. [daŋkə fy:ɐ̯ di: aɪ̯nla:dʊŋ ɪç bɪn kla:ʁa fʁɔʏ̯t mɪç ze:ɐ] At an event when introducing yourself to the host
My name is Clara Schreiber. Nice to meet you and thank you for this opportunity. Ich heiße Clara Schreiber. Schön Sie kennenzulernen und danke, dass ich diese Gelegenheit bekomme. [ɪç haɪ̯szə kla:ʁa ʃʁaɪ̯bɐ. ʃø:n zi: kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən ʊnt daŋkə das ɪç di:zə gəle:gənhaɪ̯t bəkɔmə] At a job interview
Hello, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Clara and I just started working in the marketing department. Nice to meet you this way. Hallo, Ich wollte mich kurz vorstellen. Mein Name ist Clara und ich arbeite jetzt im Marketing. Schön, Sie auf diesem Wege kennenzulernen. [halo: ɪç vɔltə mɪç kʊɐ̯t͡s fo:ɐ̯ʃtɛlən maɪ̯n na:mə ɪst kla:ʁa ʊnt ɪç aɐ̯baɪ̯tə jɛt͡st ɪm maɐ̯kətɪŋ ʃø:n ɔʏ̯ç aʊ̯f di:zəm ve:k||vɛk kɛnɛnt͡su:lɐnən] In a work Email

The most common German names and how to pronounce them

Now that you know how to ask for someone’s name, it’s your job not to butcher it. Watch out, some German names look familiar but their pronunciation is quite different from the English one. So we listed some of the most popular German names and their English pronunciation for you to learn.

Young brother and sister on slide, have common German names.

Common German girl names

German Pronunciation
Julia Yoo-leah
Lara Luh-rah
Mila Mee-lah
Emilia Eh-mee-leah
Sara Sah-ra
Hanna Huh-nah
Lena Leh-nah
Anna Uh-nah
Mia Me-yah
Leonie Leh-o-nee
Amelie Um-meh-lee
Luise/Luisa Loo-ease-eh/ Loo-ease-ah
Sophie/Sofia Soh-fee/Soh-fee-ah
Lina Leena
Ella Ella
Emma Emma
Lea Leh-ah
Marie Muh-ree
Johanna Yo-hun-nah
Clara Cluh-rah

Common German boy names

German Pronunciation
Noah No-ah
Paul Powl
Max Mux
Finn Finn
Jan Yun
Elias Eh-lee-us
Ben Ben
Luca Luca
Emil Eh-meel
Louis Louis
Leon Leh-on
Jonas Yo-nuss
Lukas Loo-cuss
Niklas Nee-cluss
Jacob Yah-cob
Moritz Moh-ritz
Anton Un-ton
Jannik Yun-nik
Stefan Shtef-fahn
Daniel Duniel

The meaning of names

As we mentioned, the German word “heißen” also means “to mean”. The phrase "Was heißt das?” can be translated as “What does that mean?”. So in a way, when you’re asking someone for their name in German, you’re indirectly asking them about their meaning.

That’s a beautiful way to think about the act of asking someone’s name. It makes sense, too. Asking someone’s name is the first step to getting to know and ultimately understanding a person. Therefore introducing yourself is the base of every relationship and after all, building relationships is what motivates most of us to learn languages in the first place.

If you’re enjoying learning German vocabulary lessons, keep building your skills on our fun, free learn German blog.

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