Using the verb "jiao"

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The verb 叫 (jiào) is used to indicate what someone or something is called, or what someone or something's name is. Its usage can seem a little weird to beginners, so it gets its own grammar point.


The verb 叫 (jiào) means both "to call" and "to be called." It's an easy way to give names, using the following structure:

Subj. + 叫 + [Name]

This can be used to give your full name or just your first name.


  • Tom。Note: it even works if you don't have a Chinese name!jiào Tom.My name is Tom.
  • 李小龙。Note: this is the real name of Bruce Leejiào Lǐ Xiǎolóng.His name is Li Xiaolong.
  • 我 哥哥 老马 。Note: this is probably not his real nameWǒ gēge jiào Lǎo Mǎ.My brother is called Lao Ma.
  • 那 个 什么?Nàge jiào shénme?What is that called?
  • 这 个 美女 Alana。Zhège měinǚ jiào Alana.This pretty girl is named Alana.
  • 我们 的 老板 John。Wǒmen de lǎobǎn jiào John.Our boss is named John.
  • 我 的 狗 Max。Wǒ de gǒu jiào Max.My dog is called Max.
  • 这 种 手机 iPhone。Zhè zhǒng shǒujī jiào iPhone.This kind of cell phone is called an iPhone.
  • 你 爸爸 什么? Nǐ bàba jiào shénme?What is your dad's name?
  • 这 个 地方 外滩。Zhège dìfang jiào Wàitān.This place is called the Bund.

You can also ask people their names using 叫 (jiào):

  • 什么 名字 ?jiào shénme míngzi?What's your name?

See also

Sources and further reading