Quick answer
"Last name" is a noun which is often translated as "el apellido", and "What is your surname?" is a phrase which is often translated as "¿Cuál es tu apellido?". Learn more about the difference between "last name" and "What is your surname?" below.
last name(
lahst
 
neym
)
A noun is a word referring to a person, animal, place, thing, feeling or idea (e.g. man, dog, house).
1. (surname)
a. el apellido
(m) means that a noun is masculine. Spanish nouns have a gender, which is either feminine (like la mujer or la luna) or masculine (like el hombre or el sol).
Her last name is a very common one in that country.Su apellido es uno muy popular en ese país.
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What is your surname?
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (used to address one person) (United Kingdom)
a. ¿Cuál es tu apellido?
A word of phrase used to refer to the second person informal “tú” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. How are you?).
(informal)
(singular)
What is your surname? - It's Roberts.¿Cuál es tu apellido? - Es Roberts.
b. ¿Cómo te apellidas?
A word of phrase used to refer to the second person informal “tú” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. How are you?).
(informal)
(singular)
My name is Juan. - Nice to meet you, Juan. What is your surname?Mi nombre es Juan. - Mucho gusto, Juan. ¿Cómo te apellidas?
c. ¿Cuál es su apellido?
A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
(formal)
(singular)
What is your surname name, sir? - It's Donovan.¿Cuál es su apellido, señor? - Es Donovan.
d. ¿Cómo se apellida?
A word or phrase used to refer to the second person formal “usted” by their conjugation or implied context (e.g. usted).
(formal)
(singular)
What is your surname? - It's Castillo-Garcia.¿Cómo se apellida? - Castillo-Garcia.
2. (used to address multiple people of the same family) (United Kingdom)
a. ¿Cuál es su apellido? (plural)
My name is Alex, and this is my sister, Kim. - What is your surname?Mi nombre es Álex, y esta es mi hermana, Kim. - ¿Cuál es su apellido?
b. ¿Cómo se apellidan? (plural)
I'm Roger, and I'm here with my mother, Alice. - What is your surname?Soy Roger, y estoy aquí con mi madre, Alice. - ¿Cómo se apellidan?
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