first name, middle name, and last name

Kimaunz

Senior Member
Korean - South Korea
Hi,

Is it possible to mention first name and middle name only as in the following? In the following I suppose "Larry" is first name, "Lee" is middle name, and "Simms" is last name or surname and I find Larry Lee is used:

"You know, you're dumb as a rock."

"Larry Lee Simms shot his cousin and best friend, James, a hateful look, but didn't respond to the jibe.

"I said," James raised his voice, "you're as dumb as a damned rock."

"Oh yeah? Why's that?" Larry Lee was distracted. He barely noticed the change in James's tone.



Source: All The Broken People by Amy Rivers
 
Last edited:
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A few names are treated as two-word first names. The second word is often Lee or Anne. They may be hyphenated (Sally-Anne), but need not be. You would have to learn whether the person treats Larry Lee as a single first name (as in your example), or whether Lee is their middle name.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Is it possible to mention first name and middle name only as in the following?
    Do you mean mentioning first name and second name only is possible?
    Yes. It is the same as post #2 describes in the US.

    Sometimes people say both given names, as if it was the first name. My uncle's name was Hugh Lee Gordon, and he was always called "Hugh Lee".
     

    Kimaunz

    Senior Member
    Korean - South Korea
    Yes. It is the same as post #2 describes in the US.

    Sometimes people say both given names, as if it was the first name. My uncle's name was Hugh Lee Gordon, and he was always called "Hugh Lee".
    Okay. Thanks a lot, dojibear. I didn't know that.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    In the US, people often choose what they prefer others to call them. These are all standard:
    - the full first name ("Lawrence")
    - a shorter nickname for that first name ("Larry")
    - the first and middle names ("Larry Lee")
    - a nickname based on last name ("Chick" for Mr. Chegwidden)
    - a pure nickname ("Honey", "Bubba")
    - two initials ("P J"), especially if they sound like a name

    When you start a new job, the first question is often "What should we call you?"
    Then you will be introduced to everyone that way ("Suzy, this is Chick").
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Hi,

    Is it possible to mention first name and middle name only as in the following? In the following I suppose "Larry" is first name, "Lee" is middle name, and "Simms" is last name or surname and I find Larry Lee is used:

    "You know, you're dumb as a rock."

    "Larry Lee Simms shot his cousin and best friend, James, a hateful look, but didn't respond to the jibe.

    "I said," James raised his voice, "you're as dumb as a damned rock."

    "Oh year? Why's that?" Larry Lee was distracted. He barely noticed the change in James's tone.



    Source: All The Broken People by Amy Rivers
    My name is Ann Marie, and some people call me Ann while others call me Ann Marie.
    When I was in middle school, I typically wanted to spice up my name (particularly since my last name is simple and plain.)
    As is common among girls that age, I wanted something more dramatic.
    I ended up writing my name as Ann Marie. So then the teachers all called me Ann Marie, and then my fellow students followed suit.
    How you address me matches "where I know you from."
    My old friends from grade school call me Ann Marie, but the friends I made when I was older call me Ann.

    Certain first-middle name forms of address are understood to be regionalisms -- especially in the southern US.
    Billy Bob or Shar'n Ann would be recognized as a Southern, backwoodsy regional dialect.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    In the US, people often choose what they prefer others to call them. These are all standard:
    - the full first name ("Lawrence")
    - a shorter nickname for that first name ("Larry")
    - the first and middle names ("Larry Lee")
    - a nickname based on last name ("Chick" for Mr. Chegwidden)
    - a pure nickname ("Honey", "Bubba")
    - two initials ("P J"), especially if they sound like a name

    When you start a new job, the first question is often "What should we call you?"
    Then you will be introduced to everyone that way ("Suzy, this is Chick").
    Yes, that's correct.
    I was startled when my new boss asked me how I wanted to be addressed:
    > First name
    > Ms. Lastname
    > Nickname
    > Something else
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    When you see a name like Larry Lee Simms, you don't know what the role of "Lee" is. It's especially unclear with a name such as "Lee", which is very common as both a given name and a surname. With this name, there are three possibilities:

    1. His given name is Larry Lee and his surname is Simms, as is clearly the case here. As others have already said, there are certain names which can be added to a first name to make a kind of double given name. This was a popular trend, especially in the mid-twentieth century, especially in the US. At that time, there were plenty of common combinations - for example, Sally Ann, Peggy Sue, Betty May, Mary Jane for girls, and Billy Joe and Tommy Lee so on for boys. This has fallen out of fashion and is, I believe, more associated with poorer people from the southern States. The actor Billy Bob Thornton is an example of someone with a two-part given name.

    2. As you assumed, his given name is Larry and his surname is Simms. 'Lee' is just a middle name. He'd be called Larry by most people, and Mr Simms (or Dr Simms etc) in more formal contexts. This interpretation is unlikely, as it's actually very rare to refer to someone by all three names in cases where the second one is merely a 'middle' names. People are generally only referred to by their 'full' names, including middle names, in formal occasions such as when they're getting married (or being charged for a criminal offence).

    3. Larry is his first name and Lee Simms is his surname. He'd be addressed as 'Mr Lee Simms' in formal contexts. That's not the case here, but it would certainly be a possibility. Double surnames are not uncommon in English-speaking countries. Usually one surname comes from one side of the family and the other surname from the other side. They're sometimes hyphenated and sometimes not. The actress Helena Bonham Carter is an example of a person with a double, unhyphenated surname.
     
    Last edited:

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    When you see a name like Larry Lee Simms, you don't know what the role of "Lee" is. It's especially unclear with a name such as "Lee", which is very common as both a given name and a surname. In this case there are three possibilities:

    1. His given name is Larry Lee and his surname is Simms, as is clearly the case here. As ETB says, there are certain names which can be added to a first name to make a kind of double given name. This was a popular trend, especially in the mid-twentieth century, especially in the US. At that time, there were plenty of common combinations - for example, Sally Ann, Peggy Sue, Betty May, Mary Jane for girls, and Billy Joe and Tommy Lee so on for boys. This has fallen out of fashion and is, I believe, more associated with poorer people from the southern States. The actor Billy Bob Thornton is an example of someone with a two-part given name.

    2. As you assumed, that his given name is Larry and his surname is Simms. 'Lee' is just a middle name. He'd be called Larry by most people, and Mr Simms (or Dr Simms etc) in more formal contexts. This is less likely to be the case, as it's actually very rare to use middle names in this way. People are generally only referred to by their 'full' names, including middle names, in formal occasions such as when they're getting married (or being charged for a criminal offence).

    3. Larry is his first name and Lee Simms is his surname. Double surnames are not uncommon in English-speaking countries. Usually one surname comes from one side of the family and the other surname from the other side. They're sometimes hyphenated and sometimes not. The actress Helena Bonham Carter is an example of a person with a double, unhyphenated surname.
    I think that most cases of double surnames are the result of a married couple adopting both last names.

    So if Sally West marries John Smith, they become John (and Sally) Smith-West.
    There is no custom about which surname is used first. It's decided by the sound. West-Smith might be considered harder to say than Smith-West.

    In many families, the mother's family name is preserved as her son's first name, especially if the name is an old or honored name.
    If Mary Cabot marries Robert Lodge, they may name their son Cabot Lodge so as to keep the mother's old Yankee name in the family.
     

    Kimaunz

    Senior Member
    Korean - South Korea
    Yes. It is the same as post #2 describes in the US.

    Sometimes people say both given names, as if it was the first name. My uncle's name was Hugh Lee Gordon, and he was always called "Hugh Lee".
    In your uncle's case, was Hugh Lee his first name and didn't he have his middle name?
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    In your uncle's case, was Lee the middle name or was Hugh Lee the first name?
    "Lee" is a surname, so it was the middle name. "Hugh" was the first name.

    Traditionally, people in the US don't invent new names, even for given names. Instead they pick from a long list of old names. Some names are thousands of years old.
     

    Kimaunz

    Senior Member
    Korean - South Korea
    Dojibear, you said your uncle's name was Hugh Lee Gordon and Hugh, not Hugh Lee, was his first name. You said Lee was his surname and middle name. Then was Lee Gorden his surname too?
     
    As dojibear has explained, people can choose to be called anything they want, and sometimes people are called by names within their families that they don't use outside the family and may not even like.

    Lawrence Lee or Larry Lee are not likely as first names in the way Mary Ann is. It's most likely that that man's name is Lawrence (Larry) Lee Simms. Lawrence is his first name. Lee is is middle name. Simms is his last name. For whatever reason, James calls him by his first and middle names. Whether that's what Larry (Lee) prefers or not is unknown to us from this passage. Short of seeing his birth certificate, there's really no way of knowing for sure what the status of "Lee" is.

    To add to dojibear's example, I have a cousin whose full name is John Robert Jones. Robert is his middle name. To his family, he is "John Robert" to distinguish him from his father, who is also named John. To his friends and colleagues, he is just "John" because they don't know his father.

    Names are complicated.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Then was Lee Gorden his surname too?
    No. Middle names are not part of surnames. Two-word surnames (without a hyphen) are very rare in the US.

    The first name and middle name are both "given names". The last name is the "surname".

    It is similar to the situation in South Korea. A surname followed by two given names. When written in English, the two given names might be hypenated (Choi Soo-young) or not (Choi Soo Young). I don't know enough about South Korean culture to decide which is a better transliteration of 최수영. In the US, the two give names are considered two names ("first name", "middle name"), so most people have three names.

    Some people only have two names ("Joseph Smith"), in both the US and China. But 3 names is more common.

    Lawrence Lee or Larry Lee are not likely as first names in the way Mary Ann is.
    In my opinion, "Mary Ann" is a first name and middle name, not a 2-word first name. A standard birth certificate has a place for 3 official names. "Ann" would be in the "middle name" place.

    There are standard given names (first names) "Maryann" and "Maryanne", if parents want that to be a firstname.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    Two-word surnames (without a hyphen) are very rare in the US.
    The exception to that, of course, are the many women who use both their own and their husband's name as a two-part surname, e.g. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This convention is more common in the US than in other English-speaking countries.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    In the US, people generally have three names:
    One first name
    One middle name
    One last name

    Most common is to go by first and last names, but often men (especially) will use their middle initial too.
    Other variations are possible:
    > Nickname instead of a first name
    > First and middle initials instead of a first name
    > Using all three names

    Examples from the news:
    • Joe Biden (nickname, last name)
    • Donald Trump (first, last)
    • James Earl Jones (first, middle, last)
    • Robert E. Lee (first, middle initial, last)
    • KD Lang (first and middle initial, last)
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (hyphenated last name construed as all one word)
    • George "Pretty Boy" Floyd (first, interpolated nickname, last)
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    As dojibear has explained, people can choose to be called anything they want, and sometimes people are called by names within their families that they don't use outside the family and may not even like.

    Lawrence Lee or Larry Lee are not likely as first names in the way Mary Ann is. It's most likely that that man's name is Lawrence (Larry) Lee Simms. Lawrence is his first name. Lee is is middle name. Simms is his last name. For whatever reason, James calls him by his first and middle names. Whether that's what Larry (Lee) prefers or not is unknown to us from this passage. Short of seeing his birth certificate, there's really no way of knowing for sure what the status of "Lee" is.

    To add to dojibear's example, I have a cousin whose full name is John Robert Jones. Robert is his middle name. To his family, he is "John Robert" to distinguish him from his father, who is also named John. To his friends and colleagues, he is just "John" because they don't know his father.

    Names are complicated.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    As dojibear has explained, people can choose to be called anything they want, and sometimes people are called by names within their families that they don't use outside the family and may not even like.

    Lawrence Lee or Larry Lee are not likely as first names in the way Mary Ann is. It's most likely that that man's name is Lawrence (Larry) Lee Simms. Lawrence is his first name. Lee is is middle name. Simms is his last name. For whatever reason, James calls him by his first and middle names. Whether that's what Larry (Lee) prefers or not is unknown to us from this passage. Short of seeing his birth certificate, there's really no way of knowing for sure what the status of "Lee" is.

    To add to dojibear's example, I have a cousin whose full name is John Robert Jones. Robert is his middle name. To his family, he is "John Robert" to distinguish him from his father, who is also named John. To his friends and colleagues, he is just "John" because they don't know his father.

    Names are complicated.
    You said:
    "Lawrence Lee or Larry Lee are not likely as first names in the way Mary Ann is."
    My response:
    Lawrence, Larry, and Mary are first names.
    Lee and Ann are middle names.

    Mary Ann
    cannot be a first name because it is two names, and a first name is one name.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Dojibear, you said your uncle's name was Hugh Lee Gordon and Hugh, not Hugh Lee, was his first name. You said Lee was his surname and middle name. Then was Lee Gorden his surname too?
    The uncle's name is:
    First name: Hugh
    Middle name: Lee
    Surname (Last name) Gordon

    Surnames that are not hyphenated are one name, not two -- just like first names.
    Even if your family calls you Billy Bob, Bob is still the middle name.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Mary Ann cannot be a first name because it is two names, and a first name is one name.
    As mentioned, "Mary Ann" can be a variant spelling of "Maryanne". Someone might name their child "Mary Ann Theresa Smith" where "Teresa" is the middle name. I have friend whose first name is "Mary Elizabeth." There's an additional complication with women as they sometimes use their maiden name as a middle name after they marry. So Mary Ann Theresa Smith marries John Doe and becomes Mary Ann Smith Doe.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    "Mary Elizabeth" is not a first name because it is two names.
    Mary is the first name and Elizabeth is the middle name.

    On any official form (Social security, bank, IRS, RMV, Military, deeds, paychecks, etc) her name is
    Mary E. Smith
    (first name, middle initial, last name

    Both men and women can and often do have multiple middle names.
    But all first names and all non-hyphenated last names are one word.

    Mary Ann
    is certainly a variant of Maryanne, but that still leaves Mary and Ann as first and middle names.
    Maryanne is a first name.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In the US, people generally have three names:
    One first name
    One middle name
    One last name

    Examples from the news:
    • Joe Biden (nickname, last name)
    • Donald Trump (first, last)
    • James Earl Jones (first, middle, last)
    • Robert E. Lee (first, middle initial, last)
    • KD Lang (first and middle initial, last)
    • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (hyphenated last name construed as all one word)
    • George "Pretty Boy" Floyd (first, interpolated nickname, last)
    It almost seems illegal to have two middle names, if forms in the US are any guide. I have two middle names and it's rare that I can accurately complete forms. I wonder how George HW Bush did :D
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Mary Ann is certainly a variant of Maryanne, but that still leaves Mary and Ann as first and middle names.
    Maryanne is a first name.
    You're missing the point: " " is a character in the single name "Mary Ann." It can be, sometimes, a variant spelling of the single name, not two names. You can't tell people how to spell or pronounce their own names. :)
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    It almost seems illegal to have two middle names, if forms in the US are any guide. I have two middle names and it's rare that I can accurately complete forms. I wonder how George HW Bush did :D
    Most Catholics have two middle names because they use their confirmation name as a middle name.
    King Charles III has about 5 middle names, all used during his wedding to Princess Diana (which she failed to repeat correctly.)

    I believe the government doesn't care what middle name you decide to use as long as you use it consistently enough for it to be an identifier.

    Seems some guy from down south joined the army, but his name was only two letters (R and B).
    He filled out his paperwork as R B Jones, but it all came flying back with a note saying he had to use his full name, not initials.
    So he filled out the papers again, this time writing R (only) B (only) Jones.
    The next day, the sergeant called the roll, and when he came to Jones, he shouted "Ronely Bonely Jones."
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    King Charles III has about 5 middle names, all used during his wedding to Princess Diana (which she failed to repeat correctly.)
    He has three middle names, not five. And there never was anyone by the name of "Princess Diana".
    But you're right that she stumbled over them. Poor girl.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    You're missing the point: " " is a character in the single name "Mary Ann." It can be, sometimes, a variant spelling of the single name, not two names. You can't tell people how to spell or pronounce their own names. :)
    There is not an organization in the entire USA that would allow Mary Ann as one double-word first name.
    On any form anywhere -- school, IRS, payroll, bank accounts, court, driver's license, deeds -- she is listed as
    Mary A. Smith.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Most Catholics have two middle names because they use their confirmation name as a middle name.
    King Charles III has about 5 middle names, all used during his wedding to Princess Diana (which she failed to repeat correctly.)

    I believe the government doesn't care what middle name you decide to use as long as you use it consistently enough for it to be an identifier.
    I was referring specifically to US forms. I know many people in the UK who have more than one "middle" name (and I think they may somwtimes have even more in the Netherlands). However, it is not the government's place to deprive me of one of them :eek: :D:D There are, however, some forms that require (and allow) "the full name as it appears in your passport", so there's that.

    Here's another discussion on names for names. (First , middle, Christian, given, etc)
    first name, middle name, surname,last name, family name and other name
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Omniscient, are we? Even if that's true, organizations are not any sort of authority over what people believe their own names to be.
    What people believe to be the case may not be definitive.
    Maybe Name on Passport would be a good standard, as suggested in another response.

    But a first name has to be one name by definition.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    What people believe to be the case may not be definitive.
    Maybe Name on Passport would be a good standard, as suggested in another response.

    But a first name has to be one name by definition.
    Perhaps we define "names" differently from "words" and a name may have more than one "word":)

    Mary Ann cannot be a first name because it is two names, and a first name is one name.
    Mary Ann is two words but the holder will answer "What's your name?" with "Mary Ann".
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Perhaps we define "names" differently from "words" and a name may have more than one "word":)


    Mary Ann is two words but the holder will answer "What's your name?" with "Mary Ann".
    When I was in middle school, I answered the question "What's your name?" by saying "Ann Marie Smith"
    (not my real name. My real name is Ann Marie Dunkirk.)

    But even though I used both Ann and Marie as my name -- the words I wanted to be addressed by -- I still knew that my first name was Ann and my middle name was Marie. I knew that I was telling people to address me by my first and middle names.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    When I was in middle school, I answered the question "What's your name?" by saying "Ann Marie Smith"
    So a "name" can have more than one word? Really this is about naming nomenclature. Larry Lee is his name - whether that's broken down to Larry first name and Lee second name or just left as "Larry Lee", it's what people call him.

    (The dictionary accepts phrases as names : name (nām), n., v., named, nam•ing, adj. n. a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known.)
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    A first name must be only one word (or at least a novelty construction that is construed as one word, such as JonBenet.)

    I hope I never gave you the impression that I believe that a "name" must be only one word, so that everyone on the planet is known by just one word (one name.) I hope I didn't make you think that in my eyes, we are all like Madonna or Prince -- known by exactly one name. I have actually observed otherwise with my own two eyes -- Gloria and Tonkie.

    Speaking for myself, I am known by exactly three names -- Beautiful And Intelligent.
    Everyone calls me that all the time.
    "Where's Beautiful?" they ask fretfully. "I haven't seen Intelligent in hours!"
    Poor things.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    A first name must be only one word (or at least a novelty construction that is construed as one word, such as JonBenet.)

    Hyphenated first names (especially for women?) are found in English, although not so commonly as in (for instance) French.

    It almost seems illegal to have two middle names, if forms in the US are any guide. I have two middle names and it's rare that I can accurately complete forms. I wonder how George HW Bush did :D

    I think that he was simply known as "George Bush" until his son Geoge W. Bush was installed in the White House by the Supreme Court in 2022, to distinguish between the two "George Bush"es.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think that he was simply known as "George Bush" until his son George W. Bush was installed in the White House by the Supreme Court in 2022, to distinguish between the two "George Bush"es.
    Colloquially, yes, but even before his son was born, he would have had to fill out a million forms with his name as it appears on his birth certificate. They didn't invent these names later in his life. If they had, he could have simply been George Herbert Bush rather than George Herbert Walker Bush.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    Hyphenated first names (especially for women?) are found in English, although not so commonly as in (for instance) French.



    I think that he was simply known as "George Bush" until his son Geoge W. Bush was installed in the White House by the Supreme Court in 2022, to distinguish between the two "George Bush"es.
    "George Bush"es can't be right.

    What about "the two Georges Bush" -- like the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" or the "Brothers Grimm"? 😊
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    In the US (and in this thread), there are two different subjects, that are not the same thing at all:

    (1) The official name on a birth certificate, chosen by the parents.
    (2) The name a person uses as an adult (or even as a schoolkid).

    Those can be different. Government rules (in the US, state law) might affect (1) but not affect (2).

    However, many places insist on using (1). In many states, state laws dictate that (1) is the name on a driver's license. Similarly, hospitals might dictate that (1) is the name on medical records.

    For example, my first name has been "Ted" my entire life, but it is "Theodore" on my birth certificate, and therefore on my driver's license, pilot's license, hospital records, doctor records, medical insurance forms, government records (social security), tax forms, and a few other places. I'm not sure about bank accounts and credit cards.
     

    wordy

    Senior Member
    English USA
    In the US (and in this thread), there are two different subjects, that are not the same thing at all:

    (1) The official name on a birth certificate, chosen by the parents.
    (2) The name a person uses as an adult (or even as a schoolkid).

    Those can be different. Government rules (in the US, state law) might affect (1) but not affect (2).

    However, many places insist on using (1). In many states, state laws dictate that (1) is the name on a driver's license. Similarly, hospitals might dictate that (1) is the name on medical records.

    For example, my first name has been "Ted" my entire life, but it is "Theodore" on my birth certificate, and therefore on my driver's license, pilot's license, hospital records, doctor records, medical insurance forms, government records (social security), tax forms, and a few other places. I'm not sure about bank accounts and credit cards.
    Good points.
    Of course I know that people introduce themselves with all kinds of words, and you're right to point out that those expressions are "names."
    You saw that I was thinking only of a person's legal name.

    On official documents, my first name is "Your Wonderfulness," but I let the people around me address me simply as "Wonderful."
    That seems to work for me.
     
    Top