Check out our updated Community
Sara C
Community Tutor
What are the surname practices of your culture?

Hello! I'd love to hear about the surname practices of your culture.

In America, when a woman gets married she usually takes on her husband's last name, but she doesn't have to. Some women take on their husband's surname and use their own surname as a middle name. Some women keep their own last names. Some couples hyphenate their last names and pass this name on to their children.

In Italy, women do not change their surnames.

I think that in Spain the couple always hyphenates their last names together when they get married. I was reading a book that takes place in Spain, called Niebla, and the main male character wanted to marry a certain lady, and he was imagining taking on her last name. Does anyone know if (in the past) husbands in Spain would take on their wife's last name?

I chose to keep my own last name after getting married. I married an American (who has a German last name) and I didn't want to give up my Italian last name because it's part of my heritage and I'm a huge fan of my name. I also didn't want to make it into a middle name, because a middle name and last name are on different levels. (Usually the middle name is less used and less important than the last name.)  At first I did get a bit of pressure from family members to change my last name, but in the end they accepted that I wasn't going to change it.

8 de mar de 2018 13:36
Comments · 8

In Russia, the situation is similar to that in Poland. Most women take their husbands' surnames, but you can take a double-barred one (maximum two surnames joined with a hyphen) or just keep your birth surname if you wish. It's not a new thing, by the way: e.g., my great-grandmother kept her last name after marriage and it was OK with everyone. Children usually have their father's surname but again - there are exceptions. It depends.

Besides, you can resume your former surname at any time. It requires a legal procedure but it's not impossible (it costs 1000 rubles (~$17.5) by itself + about 5800 rubles (~$100) for changing all the documents - passport, foreign passport, driver's license...). Usually there's no objective need for changing back to your maiden name, but there are some situations when a woman may feel it's necessary. Upon a divorce, for example. That's why we have a cliché, "Divorce and maiden name!". It means "that's all, there's no way back, I've had enough" (this phrase is used not only with regard to someone's family life today). 

And yes, our surnames are usually gender-marked, too, as in Poland. E.g., my surname ends in "-ova", and my brother has the same surname but it ends in "-ov". One letter makes a difference. There are gender-neutral surnames, too - however, there are grammar rules which can mark you out as a man or a woman. For instance, "feminine" surnames which end in a consonant are not declined at all, whilst "masculine" surnames have to be declined sometimes. So, if we take a popular Korean surname, Kim, we will say:

I saw Kim yesterday (about a woman).


I saw Kima yesterday (about a man).

All in all, it's complicated.

9 de Marzo de 2018
In Spain we have two last names. The first is our father´s last name and the second is our mother´s.
In special circumstances, when you are registering your child it is possible to request that he gets the two father´s last names or mother´s.
Besides when you are 18 years old you can choose to change your last names if you have a reason for do it.

9 de Marzo de 2018
Hello. In Poland the situation with surnames  is similar to what is in the USA. So usually the woman takes her husband's surname or adds his surname to her own. The children usually have their father's surname. But the law sais that both husband and wife can choose to keep the previous surname or take the surname of the spouse or combine both surnames in any way they want (also with '-' if they want to).
The special thing about Polish surnames is that some of them have different male and female endings e.g. '-ski' for men and '-ska' for women. My cousin went to the USA and got married there. Now they have returned and everybody are surprised why the surname of my cousin's wife ends with male ''-ski'.
Many surnames don't have this male-female differences and in the past ages they were sometimes modified by adding '-owa' for married and '-ówna' for unmarried women. But since the 2nd half of 20th century (I guess) these endings are no longer in use, because being married or not is a private business of each woman. But we sometimes use it just for joking. 

I have a few Spanish friends and I see that they have double surnames (father's and mother's surnames) and don't change them while getting married. But maybe there are other possibilities too.
My wife has an aunt who married an Italian. She hasn't changed her surname but most of Polish family members call her by her husband's surname. 

8 de Marzo de 2018
In Syria there are some women use their husbands's surnames but only in dialy life I mean not in civil Identity card not officially ,some other add their husbands's surname also not officially but most women don't and no women don't inherited their surnames to their children

I prefer that I keep my surname if I got married

8 de Marzo de 2018

It's pretty much the same as in the USA here. Taking the man's name is more common, but the reverse certainly happens too (maybe more? don't really know USA).

I think keeping the name you were born with makes most sense, like in China and apparently Italy. You can choose one of them for children.

I'd personally choose children's last names based on practical things, like 'will it give some advantage to have a family name associated with a certain culture' or 'are there already 130 million people with this family name'...

8 de Marzo de 2018
Show More
Sara C
Language Skills
English, Hindi, Italian, Spanish
Learning Language
Hindi, Spanish