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Chinese Names

The names of Chinese people have their own tradition and characteristics. Unlike westerners, the family name in China is put first, followed by the given name. Interestingly a feme covert does not use her husband's family name. The given name usually contains one or two Chinese characters but in order to avoid confusion between namesakes, newly-born babies are now entitled to be given names of three characters.

Chinese people usually have two word or three word names: the family name, a middle name and the last name.
Family names always come tirst. For example, my full name is Bai Junwei. Bai is my family name. Junwei is my given name. But some Chinese people don't have the middle name. For example, a man called Zhou Jian. Zhou is his family name,and Jian is his given name.

People often use Mr. , Mrs. , or Miss before their family names, but never before.their given names. So you can say "Mr. Zhou", but you could never say "Mr.Jian".

Altogether some 22,000 family names have been used in China but over time, some of them have become reserved and only 3,500 are commonly used nowadays. The most popular three surnames in China are Li, Wang and Zhang, respectively occupying about 7.9%, 7.4% and 7.1% of the whole Chinese population. There are 270 million Chinese people who own one of these top three surnames.

Among all the Chinese family names, 100 common ones cover almost 87% of the total population. Of these, 19 are more popular than others, including Li, Wang, Zhang, Liu, Chen, Yang, Zhao, Huang, Zhou, Wu, Xu, Sun, Hu, Zhu, Gao, Lin, He, Guo and Ma, and represent about half of the whole Chinese people.

Some Chinese people have compound surnames, consisting of two Chinese characters, like Ou Yang, Tai Shi, Duan Mu, Shang Guan, Si Ma, Dong Fang, Du Gu, Nan Gong, among others. Now there are altogether 81 compound surnames existing in China.

Chinese names are different from English names. In England, the last name is the family name. The first and the middle name is tile given name. For example,there is a man called Jim Henry Brown. Brown is his family name. Jim Henry is his given name. Another difference between~ E.nglish and Chinese names is that in China, the younger people's names shouldn't be the same as the elder's in the family.For example, my grandpa's name is Guo Dong, so i can't be called Guo Dong again.This shows that we respect the old people.

In the family, people usually call me Weiwei for short. This is because it is shorter and easier than Bai Junwei, and it also they love me. In one word, Chinese names are quite different from English names.

Most common Chinese names

We have all met Chinese people with the lastname Li (Lee). There is Bruce Lee for one, then Jet Li and a number of other Chinese stars. It seems as if every other Chinese person's name was Li. In reality, however, the most common Chinese lastname is Chen, often spelled in English as Chan. The second most common lastname is Lin, the third Huang (Hwang, Hwong), and only the fourth is Li. In fact, there are over two times as many Chen's as Li's.

Here is a list of the most common lastnames:

Chen (Chan)
Huang (Hwang, Hwong)
Li (Lee)
Zhang (Chang)
Wu (U, O, Oh)
Wang (Wong)
Cai (Tsai)
Over 50% of all Chinese people have one of these nine Chinese family names. And just 50 different family names are sufficient to name 90% of the population of China, that is, over a billion people. That is a significant portion of the world!

Addressing Chinese People
It is considered to be polite and respectful to address a Chinese people by his/her surname, followed by honorific titles like Xian1 Sheng1 (Sir), Nv3 Shi4 (Madam) or the job position. Given names are often called between good friends. Xiao3 Jie4 nowadays is considered to be an offensive way to address Chinese young ladies. Below is the general way to address various Chinese people.
English Chinese Pinyin
Mr. Li Li Xian1 Sheng1
Mrs. Wang Wan Nv3 Shi4
Ms. Zhang Zhang Nv3 Shi4
President Hu Hu Zhu3 Xi2
Minister Wen Wen Zong3 Li3
Manager Wang Wang Jing1 Li3

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