Language Guide
Vocabulary
The Difference Between "¿Cómo Te Llamas?" and "¿Cómo Se Llama?"

The Difference Between "¿Cómo Te Llamas?" and "¿Cómo Se Llama?"

Quick Answer

¿Cómo te llamas?  = What's your name? (informal)

¿Cómo se llama?  = What's your name? (formal), What's his/her/its name?, or What's it called?

vs. Usted

The singular you can be translated into Spanish in many different ways. The two most common ways are and usted. Check out the table below for information on which one you should use to ask someone for their name.

FormUsed WithHow to Ask For Someone's Name
(informal second person singular)a person who is the same age as you or younger¿Cómo te llamas?
Usted fFormal second person singular)a person who is older than you or to whom you want to show respect¿Cómo se llama?

Looking for more on the different ways to say you in Spanish? Check out our article here!

Check out these examples, paying attention to the relationship between the speaker and listener.

¡Oye, chamaco! ¿Cómo te llamas?
Hey, kid! What's your name?
 
Buenos días, señora. ¿Cómo se llama?
Good morning, ma'am. What's your name?
 
  • In the first example, the speaker appears to be older than the listener, so he/she uses ¿Cómo te llamas? to ask the listener his name.

  • In the second example, the speaker appears to be younger than the listener, so he/she uses ¿Cómo se llama? to ask the listener her name.

Formal You vs. He/She/It

¿Cómo se llama? can be used for directly asking someone his or her name, as well as for asking about the name of a person or thing.

The example below shows ¿Cómo se llama? being used to directly (formally) ask someone his name.

Buenos días, señor. ¿Cómo se llama?
Good morning, sir. What's your name?
 

The following examples show ¿Cómo se llama? being used to ask the name of a third person or the name of a thing.

Ella es la hermana de Miguel. - ¿Cómo se llama?
That's Miguel's sister. - What's her name?
 
¿Conoces el primo de Laura? - No sé. ¿Cómo se llama?
Do you know Laura's cousin? - I don't know. What's his name?
 
Fuimos a un restaurante bien padre anoche. - ¿Cómo se llama?
We went to a really cool restaurant last night. - What's its name?
 

Pronunciation Tip

The llama in ¿Cómo se llama? is pronounced YAH-mah, not LAH-mah. The woolly native of the Andes that we call a llama (LAH-mah) in English is called a llama  (YAH-mah) in Spanish, and the word is pronounced just like the llama in ¿Cómo se llama?.

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