You are unsure how to ask the question. Do we ask, “What’s their name?” or “What are their names?”
The answer to this question depends on whether you are asking about one person or multiple people.
If you are referring to one person, then it is grammatically correct to ask, “What is their name?”
If you are referring to multiple people, then the right question is, “What are their names?”
What are their names?
We can ask the question, “What are their names” when speaking about multiple people.
- “What are their names?”
- “Their names are Lucy, Sophie, Bianca, and Tim.”
- Their names are Ben and James.
What’s their name?
This is grammatically incorrect when speaking about multiple people.
We can say, “What is your name” when asking one person directly. Or we could say, “what is his/her name” when asking about someone.
We could ask, “What is its name” when referring to an animal whose gender we don’t know.
To keep the term gender-neutral, we could ask, “what is their name?” to refer to one person only.
- “What’s your name?” —”My name is Kevin.”
- “What’s his name?” —”His name is Luke.”
- What’s their name? —”It’s Lizzy.”
- “Their name is Smith.” (if they have the same last name, Smith).
Name or Names?
Sentences with “name” and “names.”
- The names of the students who won the lottery are Sophie, Tom and Ruby.
- The name of the manager is Frank.
- What are the names of the famous singers in the band Euphoria?
- I really like the name, Helen.
- The children wrote their names on their copybooks.
- Her name is Claire Marie Valentine.
- I have a first name, a middle name and a last name.
- Phoebe wrote her full name as it appeared on her passport.
Full Name Meaning
A full name is the set of names by which an individual is known. A full name usually consists of a given name (or first name), a middle name, and a surname (or last name).
A full name can also include other names, such as nicknames, which are used informally. This would require placing the nickname after the first name.
- Jake “Joker” Williams
- Thomas Mathias Walker
- Marie Sarah Roberts
Asking for Multiple Names
If you require the first, middle and last name of a person, you could ask:
“What is your/his/her/their full name?”
If you require the first, middle and last names of a group of people, you could ask:
“What are your full names?” (Speaking directly to the group)
“What are their full names?” (Referring to the group)
The surname (or last name) is the name of a person’s family. It is usually passed down from the father to the children.
The surname is usually written after the given name—for example, Kevin Smith.
If you want to ask for the last name of a person, you would ask:
“What is your/his/her/their surname?”
“What is your/his/her/their last name?”
If you want to ask for the last name of a group of people, you would ask:
“What are your/their surnames?”
“What are your/their last names?”
It is correct to say “what’s their names” and “what is their names” depending on the number of people in question.
If you are speaking about one person, then you would ask, “What is their name?”
If you are speaking about multiple people, then you would ask, “What are their names?”
If you want to ask for more than their first name, you would ask them to give their full name or surname.
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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.