Giving personal information in English

Sometimes people ask you for personal details, such as name, address and date of birth. Here are some typical questions and ways you can answer.

Question words

Who (asks for a name or person)
Whose (asks about the owner)
Why (asks for a reason)
Where (asks for a place)
What (asks about a thing or a concept)
Which (asks about a thing)
When (asks for a time)
How (asks about the way something happens)
(Also "how much" / "how many" to ask about quantity; "how long" to ask about duration; "how often" to ask about frequency.)

Remember the word order of questions:

(1. Question word – optional)
2. Auxiliary do / does; verb to be
3. Subject
4. Verb + complement

(1)Where (2)do (2)you (4)live?
(1)What (2)is (3)your name?
(2)Do (3)you (4)like reading?

If there is no question word, the question starts with the auxiliary. The answer to a question like this is "yes" or "no".

Typical questions

1. What's your name?

(Give your first name then surname: "My name's Susan Harris" or "I'm Susan Harris".)

What's your first name?
– Susan

What's your surname / family name / second name?
– Harris

On a form, you can often see abbreviations before your surname.
Mr (for a man)
Mrs / Miss / Ms (for a woman: Mrs shows you are married, Miss shows you are single, Ms is if you'd prefer not to show your marital status – the female equivalent of Mr)
Dr (to show the person is a medical doctor or has a PhD)

2. What's your date of birth?

It's (day – month – year: "It's the second of July, 1980".)

Or:
When were you born?
("On the second of July, 1980".)

You can write 2 July 1980 or July 2, 1980. But when you say the date, use ordinal numbers:

1 – the first
2 – the second
3 – the third
4 – the fourth
5 – the fifth
6 – the sixth
7 – the seventh
8 – the eighth
9 – the ninth
10 – the tenth
11 – the eleventh
12 – the twelfth

20 – the twentieth
21 – the twenty-first

Either "the second of July, 1980" or "July the second, 1980".

3. What's your marital status?

I'm married / single / divorced / widowed

Or:
Are you married?

4. What's your address?

Or:
Where do you live?

(Give the full address)
Name of the house (if there is one)
Street number and name
Town or city
County and Postcode
Country

For example:

Rose Cottage
20, London Road
St Albans
Herts AL9 2RS
England


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