Как вас / тебя зовут?

Как вас / тебя / его зовут?

There are two ways to ask the question “What is your name?” in Russian:

1) Как вас зову́т?
[kak vas zavut]
Use this Q. in formal, official situations: with elderly people, at work or in business communication, etc.

2) Как тебя́ зову́т?
[kak t'ibya zavut]
This Q. can be used in informal situations - with kids, at a party or a sport yard.

The literal meaning of the Q. “Как вас / тебя зовут?” is the following: “What do they call you?” which demonstrates from the historical point of view the important role of the society in an individual's life in Russia.
In this logic, the Q. “Как вас / тебя зовут?” can be understood as “what do the people around you think of you and what do they call you according to their perception?”.

The answer is universal: Меня зовут + the name.
[minya zavut ...]

Меня́ зову́т Джон. They call me John. / My name is John.
Меня́ зову́т Дже́сcика. They call me Jessica. / My name is Jessica.

The structure of this Q. is: Как ___ зову́т?

The variants of this Q. are as follows:

♂️ Как его зову́т? What is his name? / What do they call him?
[kak ivo zavut]
- Кто́ это?
- Э́то мой па́рень. (a boyfriend)
- Как его́ зову́т?
- Его́ зову́т Андре́й.

♀️ Как её зову́т? What is her name? / What do they call her?
[kak iyo zavut]
- Э́то твоя́ подру́га? Как её зову́т?
- Да, э́то моя́ подру́га Ната́ша.

♂️ ♀️ Как их зову́т? What are their names? What do they call them?
[kak ikh zavut]
- Э́то твои́ де́ти?!
- Да:)
- Как их зову́т?
- Их зову́т Анто́н и А́ня.
Also in some processes with documents like the one at the Russian customs in airports, you may be asked:
  • Как ва́ше и́мя?
[kak vashe imya]
This Q. is literally “What is your name?” but it is more usually used in document processing than in everyday life.

The same about the patronymic name and the surname.

  • Как ва́ше и́мя и о́тчество?What is your name and patronymic name?
[kak vashi imya i otchistva]

  • Как ва́ша фами́лия? What is your family name?
[kak vasha familiya]

In different documents you can usually see this abbreviation: ФИО, which stands for Фамилия Имя Отчество.

In Russian culture the patronymic name is very important. It refers to the person’s father’s name and corresponds to the idea of the importance of the family institution in Russia.
It is also a permanent everyday “auto” reminder of the person’s roots.

Some examples:

The Russian president’s full name is Пу́тин Влади́мир Влади́мирович.
(his father’s name is also Vladimir)

♀️ Татьяна Ивановна (отец Иван)
♂️ Антон Иванович (отец Иван)

♀️ Нина Антоновна (отец Антон)
♂️ Андрей Антонович (отец Антон)

♀️ Анна Сергеевна (отец Сергей)
♂️ Игорь Сергеевич (отец Сергей)

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