Lesson 6 - Name

The Japanese word for "name" is namae. You already learned that you can say your name by saying Jenny desu (let's pretend your name is Jenny), but that doesn't directly translate to "My name is Jenny". It merely means "I am Jenny". If you would like to say formally "My name is Jenny", the Japanese would be Watashi no namae wa Jenny desu.

Watashi is the Japanese equivalent of "I" or "me". It is how you refer to yourself. No is a particle that indicated possession, similar to the apostrophe and s we use in English. Watashi no is the equivalent of my or mine. You can use this with any other noun to show posesssion. The word the subject possesses comes directly after the no. We already know that wa is a particle that basically marks the subject and shows what you're talking about.

Now, if you wanted to ask someone what their name was, you would use this phrase: O namae wa nan desu ka. It means, "What is your name?". The honorific "O" is used to show the other person respect, just like when you said Ogenki desu ka. Now that you have learned all this, it is very easy to ask many more questions now and form many more conversations. Let's have a conversation between Ryo and Haruko and see if you can follow along.

Ryo: Haruko san! Konnichi wa.
Haruko: Ryo san, konnichi wa. Ogenki desu ka.
Ryo: Okage sama de, genki desu. Anata wa.
Haruko: Genki desu. Ano hito no namae wa nan desu ka.
Ryo: Ano hito no namae wa Honoku desu. Honoku san!
Honoku: Ryo san, konnichi wa.
Ryo: Konnichi wa, Honoku san.
Haruko: Konnichi wa.
Honoku: Sumimasen ga, o namae wa nan desu ka.
Haruko: Watashi no namae wa Haruko desu.

Basically, in this conversation, after exchanging greetings, Haruko asks Ryo "What is that person's name over there?". Since we know that ano hito means "that person over there" and the no particle is after it, followed by namae, we know that Ryo is refering to that person's name. Ryo replies "That person over there's name is Honoku" and then calls Honoku over. Honoku then says to Haruko "Excuse me, but what is your name?". Haruko then replies that her name is Haruko. 
Now that you know possession and how to ask for a name, it is very easy to talk to someone about pets now. Let's say Ryo and Haruko had another conversation.

Haruko: Honoku san no neko no namae wa nan desu ka.
Ryo: Honoku san no neko no namae wa Fluffy desu.
Haruko: Watashi no inu no namae wa Killer desu.

In this conversation, Haruko asks Ryo "What is Honoku's cat's name?" You know that he is not referring to just Honoku's cat, because another no follows neko, signalling more possession. Ryo then replies that Honoku's cat's name is Fluffy. Haruko then comments "My dog's name is Killer".
So basically, Watashi no namae wa... refers to your own name and O namae wa refers to the person you are talking to's name.

名前 Namae Name
Watashi I / me
no particle signalling possession