How to Give Your Name, Age, and Hometown in Japanese (Sentence Patterns #2)

Updated: May 21, 2021


 

Telling people your name, age, and where you're from in Japanese is straightforward, as is asking others for similar information. You just need to memorize a few sentence structures and plug in the appropriate information. However, you need to be sure you're using the correct level of politeness. The basic structures for giving this information are:


Name: 名前(なまえ)は [Name] です。

Age: [Number] 才(さい)です。

Hometown: 出身(しゅっしん)は [Hometown] です。

 

Giving Your Name in Japanese

私の名前(なまえ)は [Name] です。

わたしのなまえは [Name] です。

Watashi no namae wa [Name] desu.


My name is [Name].



This sentence structure is made up of the following components:


私 = I/me

の = possession marker, which, in this case, changes "I/me" to "my."

名前 = name

は = topic-marking particle

Name = your name

です = copula, which serves a similar purpose as the verb "is" in English.


It can be even simpler. Instead of "My name is [Name]," you can just say "I'm [Name]" like this:「私は [Name] です 。」



Example


私の名前はジェイクです。

わたしのなまえはジェイクです。

Watashi namae wa Jeiku desu.


My name is Jake.



Asking Someone for Their Name

名前は何ですか。

なまえはなんですか 。

Namae wa nan desu ka.


What is (your) name?



This structure is comprised of the following:


名前 = name

は = topic-marking particle

何 = what

です = copula

か = question-marking particle


This structure does not start with the word for "you" (あなた) with の because it is usually considered impolite to use あなた. Besides, the person you are talking to will naturally assume that you are asking about their name.


You can raise the politeness level of this question by preceding 名前 with the honorific prefix (お): 名前は何ですか。However, you must not use the honorific prefix when talking about yourself—you would make a poor impression if you introduced yourself by saying 「私の名前は [Your name] です。」


You can also sound more casual by leaving out everything after the topic-marking particle: 名前は? Since you're not ending the sentence with か, though, you need to speak with a rising intonation at the end of the sentence, just as you do when asking a question in English.



Telling Someone Your Age in Japanese

私は [age] 才です。

わたしは [age] さいです。

Watashi wa [age] sai desu.


I am [age] years old.



This structure is easy to use as long as you've learned your numbers in Japanese. The only real trick is that the pronunciations of "one" and "eight" change when followed immediately by 才. For "one," いち becomes いっさい. For "eight," はち becomes はっさい.


Also, for "twenty years old," people often say 二十歳 (はたち) instead of 20才 (にじゅうさい).



Example


私は27才です。

わたしはにじゅうななさいです。

Watashi wa nijuunana sai desu.


I am 27 years old.



Asking Someone's Age


何才ですか。

なんさいですか。

Nansai desu ka.


How old are you?



OR



いくつですか。

Ikutsu desu ka.


How old are you?



Both of these structures are considered polite. You can make the second one even more polite by adding the honorific prefix: いくつですか。You can also ask these questions in a more casual way by dropping the copula and question-marking particle: 何才? or いくつ?


As with asking someone's name, we leave out あなたは from the beginning of the structure to avoid being rude. However, if you know the person's name, you can use it as the topic of the sentence.



Example


一千花はいくつですか。

いちかはいくつですか。

Ichika wa ikutsu desu ka.


How old are you, Ichika?



Saying Where You're From in Japanese


私の出身は [Hometown] です。

わたしのしゅっしんは [Hometown] です。

Watashi no shusshin wa [Hometown] desu.


I am from [Hometown].



OR



私は [Hometown] 出身です。

わたしは {Hometown] しゅっしんです。

Watashi wa [Hometown] shusshin desu.


I am from [Hometown].



The literal translations of these two options are different.「私の出身は [Hometown] です」translates directly as "As for my hometown, [Hometown] is." Meanwhile,「私は出身 [Hometown] です」is "As for me, hometown [Hometown] is." However, the phrases can be used interchangeably.


The direct translation of 出身 is "birthplace" or "origin." I was curious about this. What if someone was born in France but moved to America when they were one year old? I couldn't find a clear answer to this question in my coursework or online. But from what I have found, it seems that you can think of 出身 as meaning "place where someone is from." As such, I imagine my made-up person would be correct to say「アメリカ出身です。」



Examples


私の出身はミラノでず。

わたしのしゅっしんははミラノです。

Watashi no shusshin wa Mirano.


I am from Milan.



私はロンドン出身です。

わたしはロンドン出身です。

Watashi wa Rondon shusshin desu.


I am from London.



Asking Where Someone Is From


出身はどこですか。

しゅっしんはどこですか。

Shusshin wa doko desu ka.


Where are you from?



The basic structure is the same as that used to ask someone's name. You just replace the word for "name" with the word for "hometown" (出身) and the word for "what" with the word for "where" (どこ).


Like the other questions above, this structure can be made more polite by adding an honorific prefix. This time, though, this prefix is ご, not お. (ご出身はどこですか。) Unfortunately, there is no trick to knowing which honorific prefixes go with which words—you have to commit them to memory.


You can also make this structure more casual by dropping everything that comes after the topic-marking particle: 出身は?


Once again, it would be impolite to start this question with あなたの, so you should either leave it out altogether or use the person's name (if you know it) as the subject.



Example


長谷川さんのご出身はどこですか。

はせがわさんのごしゅっしんはどこですか。

Hasegawasan no goshusshin wa doko desu ka.


Where are you from, Mrs. Hasegawa?

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