Chinese names (Xing Ming in Chinese) are used in China and in Chinese communities throughout the world. Xing means family name (last name), and Ming means given name (first name). In China, the family name is put first, and followed by the given name.
The family normally contains only one character (or one syllable). A boy’s name can be Wenfeng, and he belongs to the Zhang family. People in China call him Zhang Wenfeng, but not Wenfeng Zhang unless he is traveling abroad. When the boy becomes a grow-up, he is called Zhang Xiansheng (Mr. Zhang in English).
Normally, the given name contains two Chinese characters (or two syllables), they name up more than 80% of Chinese names. Some people’s given names only have one character, and three-character (three-syllable) given names are rare. Also, each character in the given carries meaning (such as health, prosperity, virtue, serenity, and happiness), and parents or grandparents spend a lot of time picking a given name for a newborn baby.
Popular Family Names
The most popular family names are Li (8%), Wang (7.5%), and Zhang (7%), and they cover over 20% of the population. The other popular family names include Liu, Chen, Zhao, Yang, Huang, Hu, Sun, Xu, Wu, Zhou, Zhu, Gao, Lin, He, Guo, and Ma. These family names represent about half of the whole Chinese population.
Generally, a child is always entitled to the surname of the father. Nowadays, children do not have to do so. They can use their mother’s family name.
Writing and Spelling
Chinese names are written in Chinese characters, and there are two main forms: simplified characters (used in mainland Chinese) and traditional characters (used in Hong Kong and Taiwan). Learn more about the Chinese language
In mainland China, Chinese names have been Romanized using the Pinyin system since 1958. For example, Zhang Xiansheng is an example of a Chinese name using such system. The name can also be written in both simplified or traditional characters.
Address Chinese People
It is considered to be polite and respectful to use a Chinese person by his/her surname, followed by titles like Xiansheng, Xiaojie, or the job position.
Ms. Li (in English) – Li Xiaojie (in Chinese)
Mrs. Wang (in English) – Wang Taitai (in Chinese)
Mr. Zhang (in English) – Zhang Xiansheng (in Chinese)
President Obama (in English) – Obama Zongtong (in Chinese)
Get An Authentic Chinese
A native and genuine Chinese name (that a Chinese person would actually use) helps build intimacy with Chinese people and show your understanding about Chinese culture. Get Your Chinese Name and Learn How to Write Your Name in Chinese