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How to Say Chinese Names in English

with 166,872 Chinese first and last names

and 816 audios of all Mandarin Chinese syllables and their closest English pronunciations

Quick start

Chinese names can be difficult to pronounce (for example, try to say "Zixuan" or my name "Boxiao"). This website shows you how to correctly say the names of your Chinese friends, neighbors, classmates, colleagues, professors, managers, clients, business partners, competitors, and officials. Saying other people's names correctly will help you establish or maintain good relationships with them and foster a diverse and inclusive environment in your neighborhood and work place.

Simply enter the first or last name (not together) you want to search in the search box, and press Enter. Try "Zixuan", "Boxiao", "Beijing", and "Shanghai" to see how it works.

Basic knowledge of Chinese names
  • In China, people state their last names (family names) first, and first names (given names) last. I call myself Li Boxiao in China (Li is my family name), but in western countries, I call myself Boxiao Li, following the western tradition.
  • In news articles, famous Chinese figures are often referred in Chinese tradition, e.g., Xi Jinping (Xi is family name) and Yao Ming (Yao is family name).
  • Chinese family names usually have one syllable, and given names usually no more than two. Each Chinese character is one syllable.
  • Some rare family names have two syllables, such as Ouyang, Sima, and Zhuge.
  • It is common for two unrelated Chinese to share the same family name, but sharing the same given name is much less common.
Syllables in Chinese
  • Mandarin Chinese only has 408 syllables (consider how many syllables there are in English). In this sense, Chinese is easier than English.
  • To say a two-syllable name, you need to break down the syllables. Here are the general rules:
  1. Most syllables begin with a consonant followed by a vowel sound.
  2. The consonants are very similar to English: b, c, ch, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, sh, t, w, x, y, z, and zh.
  3. Six basic vowels are: a, e, i, o, u, ü. The vowel sounds include: a, ai, an, ang, ao, e, ei, en, eng, er, i, ia, ian, iang, ie, in, ing, iong, iu, o, ong, ou, u, ua, uan, uang, ui, un, uo, ü, üan, üe, ün.
  4. A vowel sound always ends in one of the basic vowels or n or ng. The only exception is er, which is a standalone syllable.
  5. Sometimes a syllable may simply be a vowel sound that starts with a, e, or o. If it is not the first syllable in a name, it is often preceded by an apostrophe (') to avoid confusion, for example, Xian has one syllable but Xi'an (a city in China) has two.
Fun facts

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Acknowledgement

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