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Is it correct to say "What was your name?"? The reason I am asking this is, generally the name of the person will not change. One should say "What is your name?"


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Changes in name are not unusual, particularly as a result of marriage. –  Kramii Sep 22 '10 at 14:51
@Kramii: That only happens in some cultures. In others, you don't change your name just because you get married. –  CesarGon Oct 24 '12 at 11:00
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The question is in the past tense because the person forgot the other person's name. Notice that he actually wrote "Sorry, what was your name again?". It means "You've already told me your name, but I can't remember what it is. Can you repeat?" and not that the name may have changed. If the person used the present tense (i.e. "What is your name?"), it would not have been clear that he knew that he had already asked that before.

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so that mean it is correct to say "what was your name", and it will not be treated as "i know what your name is but what was your name last monday btw". –  Rakesh Juyal Sep 20 '10 at 11:48
yes, you can use "sorry, what was your name again?" when you forget somebody's name. It will not be treated as if you thought that the name changed. –  b.roth Sep 20 '10 at 12:11
I agree for the most part, but would like to point out that introducing that word "again" makes the present tense work just as well as the past tense. "Sorry, what is your name again?" and "Sorry, what's your name again?" are not exactly unheard of. –  RegDwigнt Sep 20 '10 at 15:20
The past tense carries over from the more wordy "What did you say your name was?" –  moioci Sep 20 '10 at 15:31
It is idiomatic English and should, of course, be avoided in formal situations. I find that 'Sorry, what did you say your name was?' is better English and just as casual. –  J D OConal Sep 20 '10 at 23:26
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It is correct to ask the question using the past tense if you know the person's name has changed and you want to know the previous name.

This can happen through marriage.

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I went to look for a job in one of the agencies in my city, and the lady asked me "What was your name?" and I have not even told her my name before. This has happened to me a few times when they don't know my name. I get confused when they say it, but then I think it would be rude to correct them.
Basically, asking someone "What was your name" is wrong unless they have told you before, which I agree with most of you here because "was" is past tense while "is" is present.

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