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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!

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  • Is this for the address in the letter, or for the salutation? Please provide a little more context for your question. – Jeff Zeitlin Mar 15 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). – Kate Bunting Mar 15 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. – FeliniusRex Mar 15 at 12:39
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    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 at 15:28
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    Does this answer your question? Should I put my surname after my given name when I introduce myself? – jsw29 Mar 15 at 21:22

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