Wie ist Ihr Name

Introducing yourself in German is a little more complicated than in English. That’s because in German we have the formal and informal ‘you’.
So, what’s the easiest way to introduce yourself and how can you find out whether to be formal or informal?
The easiest sentence is ‘Mein Name ist ….(first name, surname)’ as that’s the closest to our English ‘my name is…’
But you can also say ‘Ich heiße …’ which means ‘I’m called …’

Always introduce yourself with your first name AND surname. Most Germans are still a lot more formal than we are and by using both names you’ll give the German the chance to be as formal as they wish to be.

If I introduce myself by saying ‘Ich heiße Angelika Davey’ I can tell by the answer whether the German person wants to be formal or informal. If the answer is something like ‘Hallo, Angelika’ then they most likely will use the informal you. If, however, their answer is something like ‘Guten Morgen, Frau Davey’, then they want to stay formal. Assuming you want to go to Germany on holidays and will be spending your time in hotels and with people you don’t know (and most likely not see again) , the formal you is the one you most likely need. Just be aware that you would use different sentences when talking to good friends, members of the family, children and animals ☺

Back to the conversation:

To ask somebody what their name is, you say ‘Wie ist Ihr Name?’ or ‘Wie heißen Sie?’
If people ask you that question, it doesn’t really matter which reply you use, so chose the one that you can remember easier.
Now all we need is the word for Mr and Mrs, luckily we don’t need to worry about Miss or Ms as they aren’t used in Germany.
So, a man is called ‘Herr’ and a woman ‘Frau’.
That’s it, you can have your first mini conversation:

‘Wie heißen Sie?’
‘Ich heiße Angelika Davey.’
‘Guten Morgen, Frau Davey.’

Or:

‘Wie ist Ihr Name?’
‘Mein Name ist Angelika Davey.’
‘Guten Abend, Frau Davey.’

(BTW, the letter ß is a sharp s sound, not a B)

So, to recap it again, introduce yourself with first and surname to give the German the chance to be as formal or informal as they wish. If they are formal and you only give your first name, it will be as if they’re talking to a child, not an equal. This is especially important if you’re in Germany on business.

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