Introducing yourself in English can be a daunting task.
You may be asked to do this in a job interview or in the IELTS test in Part One. You could also be asked to introduce yourself in a social setting — maybe at a party or at an event in your company.
It could be anywhere.
But introducing yourself is a very common thing to do in English.
I have met many students who have no idea what to say about themselves when it comes to this — they often say that there is nothing to say. But this is not true. There is so much information to say about yourself.
Let’s take a look at all the things we can say.
You should greet someone first. Even if you are on a stage and about to do a talk about who you are and what you do. You still need to greet the people.
Essentially, there are two ways to greet someone or a group of people — formal or informal.
To be honest, these days most people use an informal greeting. It is enough.
The only word you need to say is
And nothing else.
There are some other ways you can greet people, depending on the time of day.
These are a little more formal than simply saying hello. You can use these to greet someone too.
But the above phrases are all you need to know when greeting any person in English.
What’s Your Name?
When introducing yourself, you need to tell the other person or people your name. So you just say what your name is.
My name is John
And that is really all you need to say. (except your name is not John, so don’t use that)
There are some other ways to tell people your name…
You can call me Susan
Please call me Bill
Everyone calls me Jane
They call me Andy
But these are unnecessary.
Keep it simple and just say — My name is…
Where Are You From?
Now you tell someone where you are from. Which country, which city.
I will just give you two phrases to use:
I’m from London, England
I come from New York
That is all you need to say.
Maybe you were born in one place but have now lived in another place for many years. How to talk about this?
You can say:
I am from New Delhi originally, but now I live in London
Originally, I am from Beijing, but now I live in California
I was born in Thailand, but now I live in Australia
Or maybe you bounced around a bit — you can say:
I was born in London but grew up in Manchester. And now I live in New Zealand.
One thing I will tell you!
If you are introducing yourself in a native-English speaking country, do not talk about hometowns. I have heard many students use the word hometown when introducing themselves to me.
In English, for the most part, it sounds strange.
We no longer use this term any more.
No need to say:
Mexico City is my hometown
Hong Kong is my hometown
Just use the phrases above.
This might be useful to read too — How to talk about your hometown in English
How Old Are You?
You might have to tell people your age. It is not very common though. You will not have to stand on a stage as you introduce yourself and say how old you are. It is unlikely that the IELTS examiner will ask this as a question.
But if you have to tell people your age — or you wish to — this is how you do it.
I’m 26 years old
That’s it. Nothing else.
In western countries these days, there is no secrecy about age. Many years ago, it might have been impolite to ask a woman her age — but these days people are very open about it.
There is no stigma about age.
With that in mind, please avoid the following phrases when telling someone how old you are:
I’m in my early twenties
I’m in my late thirties
I’m around your age
These phrases sound like you are reluctant to tell the other person how old you are. It doesn’t sound very good in modern English, so please do not say it.
Another phrase you can use is:
I am nearly…
Maybe you are 28 or 29 — so you can say:
I am nearly thirty
Or you are 38 or 39:
I am nearly forty
This is quite common to say in English.
Tell Me About Your Family
Unless you are talking at length about your family, there is no need to go into many details about who they are and what they do.
But if you are just giving a general overview of your family, you only need to tell the listener some key information.
How many people in your family?
Who are they? Parents, brothers, sisters.
Where are they?
That is usually what I do. So you could say:
There are four people in my family — me, my mum and dad, and my brother. I live with my parents in Singapore. But my brother is studying in Australia.
There are three people in my family — me, my mum and dad. We all live in Shanghai.
There are five of us in my family — me, my mum and dad, and my two older sisters. I live in Sao Paulo with my parents, but my sisters are married and both live in other cities.
That is more than enough information to tell someone about your family. Unless the situation demands that you talk more about your family.
Please do not introduce your family as members. Golf clubs have members. Committees have members. But not your family!
Introduce them as above — as people.
If you do want to talk about your family in more detail, I suggest you look at my article on describing family — How to Talk About Your Family in English
When is Your Birthday? When were you born?
Telling people when you were born can give a clearer picture of who you are as a person.
You don’t need to tell anyone when you were born, but it might be relevant to the situation or the context of your conversation.
So how do you talk about this?
My birthday is in September
My birthday is on the 8th of July
You might have to say the year of your birth.
I was born in 2001
I was born on the 9th of February, 1998
REMEMBER — talking about your age or date of birth is no longer regarded as a big secret these days!
What Do You Do?
This question just means what is your job? Or it could be used to clarify if you are working, not working, or a student.
Someone might ask you: What do you do?
But they could also ask in the following way:
What’s your job?
What do you do for a living?
What line of work are you in?
And these are the ways that you can answer:
I am a bank clerk
I’m a factory worker
I work for a computer company — I’m in the sales department
I work in a construction company. I’m a project manager.
I work in sales — I’m the regional sales manager for a shoe company.
All you have to do is use one of the phrases above and say what your job is. Try them all out now.
But maybe you are not working. Maybe you are still in college — about to graduate and looking for work.
You can say any of the following:
I am a student. But I graduate in six months.
I have just graduated. Now I am job hunting. I would like to work in finance.
I hope to be an engineer.
I would like to be a teacher.
Of course, you need to know the name of the job you do or would like to do — look the correct words for this in your dictionary.
And make sure that you know where this job takes place.
For example, teachers work in a school. A project manager works on a construction site.
Do the right research and find all the correct words to express this.
What Do You Like to Do In Your Free Time?
We all have interests and things we like to do in our free time.
Even if it is just watching your favourite TV shows — there are still things you like to do in the evening and at the weekend.
But usually, if you are just giving people a brief overview of your life, you don’t need to go into too much detail about your free-time activities.
The best and easiest way to talk about your free-time activities is to simply say:
I like to watch movies at the weekend
I like to go running in my free time
I like to do some gardening
I like to read books when I have the time
I like to do cooking in the evening and at the weekend
I would advise against using the word hobby or interests. These words are kind of old-fashioned and no longer used today.
Yes, people have interests, they have hobbies — but they never say My hobby is/my interests are.
They say they like to do something instead.
Other phrases you can use:
I love reading crime fiction stories
I love going to the theatre
I enjoy taking my dog for a walk in the park
I enjoy cooking Italian food at the weekend
I’m into football — I always watch the game on Saturday
I’m into yoga — I try to go to the yoga club three times a week
And unless you are talking at great length about the things you like to do in your free time, the phrases above are enough to help you express your thoughts.
If you have to talk at length about your hobbies and interests, then feel free to check my article here — How to Talk About Hobbies in English
Where Do You Go To School? What Did You Study?
You can give a brief introduction of your education.
I’m a student. I go to school in…
I’m a student. I go to college in…
I study economics at Bolton College
I study engineering at Fulton University
I am studying computer science at Gravesend College
I am studying law at Dartmouth University
English students sometimes talk about their major at college. You can talk about it like this:
My major is art. I am studying at Cranley College
My major is English. I am at Harwich University
Then you can talk about which year you are in.
These are the academic years in college:
1st year: Freshman
2nd year: Sophomore
3rd year: Junior
4th year: Senior
Please note that it is mostly America that uses these terms. In other countries, people may just say the number of the year.
So they might say: I am in my second year/I am in my third year.
Are You Married? Are You Single?
And then you might be asked about your marital status.
I know that in some countries this may seem like a private question, but mostly in western countries, it can be quite a normal topic of conversation.
If you are married, say this:
I am married.
I am happily married
I have been married for ten years
I am married and me and my wife have been together for eight years
Or maybe you are divorced:
I am divorced
I am separated
I am now single again
I am single
I don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend
I am not seeing anyone
I am not dating anyone right now
And if you have children:
I am married. Me and my wife have two kids — a boy and a girl.
I have a family — me, my wife, and our two daughters.
Putting It All Together
So it’s all very well just telling you what to say. You need to see how this could be put together in one speech or monologue.
Let’s look at some examples:
Hi, my name is Tony and I am from Clifton in England.
But now I am living here in California.
I’m 32 years old and I’m married — been married for five years now. Me and my wife have a son and a baby girl. My son’s name is Eric, and my daughter is called Tania. My wife’s name is Yvonne.
I also have an older brother — he lives in England with his family. And my mum and dad — well, they’re retired now and enjoying life.
So my job. I’m a software engineer — I guess that’s why I’m in California. And I work for one of the big tech companies here.
I usually have to work a lot of hours, but when I am not working, me and my wife like to go for drives along the coast. I am trying to teach my son to swim, so that’s a bit of a challenge.
I also like collecting comics — this drives my wife mad, as we don’t have the space for all these old comics. But she makes allowances for me.
I went to college in England — a small place called Cranston Uni — and I studied computer science there. That is where I met my wife.
Hello everyone, my name is Brian and I am from Taverton, a small town in Australia.
I am 26 years old. I now live here in Singapore. I am here alone.
I have a brother and sister back in Australia. And my mum and dad live there too. My dad runs his own company and my mum helps out a little there.
My brother is a photographer. I guess that is how I got into publishing. I work for a small magazine publisher here and I am in charge of the pictures and images we use in the magazines and websites we publish.
I studied media publishing in Australia at Melbourne College.
In my free time, I like writing — I am trying to write a novel!
I also like running and try to go running most mornings. I have competed in three marathons too. I hope to do another one here in Singapore this year.
Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I am from Hong Kong.
I am Chinese, of course, but I took on the English name of Elizabeth when I was at school.
I am 28 years old. And I work in shipping.
I went to college in New Zealand, where I studied logistics.
Now I work for a large shipping company in Hong Kong. I live with my parents — they are retired now. And me and my boyfriend hope to get married next year.
In my free time, I like shopping — of course! — and I also like reading the old classics. I’m a bit of a romantic like that.
I also like to do muay thai in the evening. It’s kind of violent, but I find a great way to get rid of the stress of the working day.
Now you try!
Make your own speech or introduction.
Write it all out as if it were an email you wanted to send to someone. Then practice saying it out loud.
Use a mirror to help you speak clearly and loudly.
Introducing yourself should be one of the easiest things to do in English.
After all, you are talking about the one topic that you are an expert on — yourself!
All you need to do is piece together all the parts from above and assemble them together into one coherent form.
Use whatever parts you wish to use. If there are some things you don’t want to talk about when introducing yourself, then don’t say anything about it. You only need to talk about things you want to say.
Good luck and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!