I'm translating a formal letter to English. With my previous knowledge of English, I translated names from Singapore and China using the format "Mr. First name + Last Name".

For example:

(1) The order in Chinese: Wang (last name) Lili (first name)

Translated: Mr. Lili Wang

(2) The order in Singaporean-format: Koh (last name) Sing (first name)

Translated: Mr. Sing Koh

However, my colleague stated that I have made mistakes in arranging the order of last and first names and insisted I go with "Mr. Last name + First name" for all names in the letter.

I understand in Singapore, it seems people always put last name first (though I'm also unsure of the use), but is my colleague correct? I also wonder if the order varies in different cultures (ex. Singapore v. England)?

Thank you in advance!

  • Is this for the address in the letter, or for the salutation? Please provide a little more context for your question. Mar 15, 2021 at 11:13
  • It's reasonably well-known to English speakers that the Chinese put the family name before the given name (for instance, Chairman Mao is always referred to as Mao Tse-Tung/Zedong). Mar 15, 2021 at 11:41
  • Yes, the order varies in other cultures. In American culture, it's first name then last name, though it's customary in formal correspondence to omit the first name. Mar 15, 2021 at 12:39
  • 1
    It's very common in English to use Mr with the surname/family name and no first name (especially in the salutation at the start of a letter), so you could write "Dear Mr Koh". You can also omit Mr if you're giving the full name, particularly if addressing an envelope/parcel etc, but also at the start of a letter. bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zv7fqp3/articles/zkq8hbk
    – Stuart F
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:28
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Should I put my surname after my given name when I introduce myself?
    – jsw29
    Mar 15, 2021 at 21:22


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.