Americans have names from all over the world and from every religion. Americans have many backgrounds, so their names come from all places. Most people speak English, so many people have English names. They also have German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Spanish, or other names! Some people even invent names.
Some names are more common than others. You are likely to meet boys named Michael, Matthew, Dan, John, or Chris. You might meet girls named Emily, Mary, Elizabeth, Ashley, or Sarah. These are just examples of common names.
It is common for people have three names—a first name, a middle name, and a last name. The last name is a family name—the same one that your parents have. Last names are very diverse and reflect the many places American families come from. You might meet people named Smith, Green, Stein, Lee, or Davis, for example. If you are curious, you can ask where someone’s name is from. They might be excited to tell you about their family’s history!
Your parents choose your first and middle name for you and give them to you when you are born. Most people are called by their first name, but some people use their middle name or both names. Each person can do whatever they want.
The President’s full name is Barak Hussein Obama. Obama is a family name from his father, and his parents choose to make his first name Barack and his middle name Hussein. The President’s friends call him Barack, and the rest of us say Mr. Obama.
It is polite to call an adult by their last name. If you met a man named John Smith, you would call him Mr. Smith. You say Mr. like mister. For women, there are two titles. If you met a woman named Jane Smith, you would call her Mrs. Smith if she was married and Ms. Smith if you didn’t know or it didn’t matter. You say these like missus and miz. You call teachers Mr. and Ms.
You can call children by their first names. Sometimes people use a short version of their name. This is called a nickname. If your name is Elizabeth, you might like people to call you Liz. If your name is David, you might ask people to call you Dave. Some people don’t like this, so you should ask first. If you knew President Obama when he was a boy, you might have called him Barry!
There is a song that plays with the sounds in names. The words are nonsense, which means that they don’t mean anything. But it is fun to sing! You replace the first letter of a name with a new letter.
For Jack, a boy, you would sing:
Jack, Jack , bo back. Fa na na na na fo fack. Me mi mo mack. Jack!
For Kelly, a girl, you would sing:
Kelly Kelly bo belly. Fa na na na na fo felly. Me mi mo melly. Kelly!
Sometimes a word appears in the song, like back or belly for Jack and Kelly!