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Chinese Names In English

Published at 2013-07-17 21:19:55 Updated at 2013-07-17 21:19:55

How to identify a Native Chinese name in English

  • A standard native Chinese name consists of two parts (or words in English), such as Mao Zedong, Yao Ming, Ouyang Zhongshi, Zhuge Liang;

  • The first word, a monosyllable Mao, Yao, or a disyllable Ouyang, Zhuge, is a family name;

  • And second one, also a monosyllable or disyllable (disyllable), is a given name, or a personal name.

Native Chinese names in this site include:

  1. names for persons whose native language are Chinese, do not for the people who have their ethical language such as Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uigur in China.
  2. names for persons who are not Chinese but named according to Chinese culture. e.g some diplomats to China.

Four types of native Chinese name

According to the number of words in the family name or given name, native Chinese names could be divided into 4 types:

Family Name/
Given Name
Common Family NameCompound Family Name
Given Name
written in English:Yao Ming
a NBA player.
written in English:Zhuge Liang
an ancient statesman.
Given Name
written in English:Mao Zedong
First President of R.P. China.
written in English:Ouyang Zhongshi
a modern calligrapher.

Identify family name and given name

Yao Ming

This name consists of two words. Yao is a family name with one word, and the last single word Ming is his given name. Over 95% Chinese family name only has one word.

Mao Zedong

It is the name of Mao Zedong, the first President of China. The first character, Mao, is a family name with one character, and the last two words Ze and Dong make his given name.

Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang was a statesman and strategist in the period of the Three Kingdoms, now a symbol of wisdom in Chinese folklore.

The first two characters Zhuge compose his family name, a compound family name. And the last one Liang is his given name.

Ouyang Zhongshi

There are 4 characters in this name. Same as the above one, the first two characters Ouyang is a compound family name. And the last two characters Zhong and Shi form his given name.

How to write a Chinese name in English

According to a national standard, the following rules have to be followed when a native Chinese name is written in English.

  1. Chinese Pinyin is the only right form of Chinese names in English;

  2. The family name is on the first;

  3. The given name is on the second;

  4. A space is put between family name and given name;

  5. The first letter of names are capitalized.


  1. A native Chinese name consists of two parts. The first part is a family name, such as Mao, Yao, Ouyang, or Zhuge. And the second one is a given name, such as Zedong, Ming, Liang, or Zhongshi.

  2. If a family name is a monosyllable, it is a common family name, while if a disyllable, it is a compound family name, because a Chinese character always is a monosyllable.

  3. ditto given name.