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Which last name goes first when hyphenating?

When it comes to hyphenating last names, one of the most common questions that arises is “which last name goes first?” The answer is that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer – it’s up to personal preference. However, there are some factors that can help you make the decision. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various considerations that can help you decide which last name should go first when hyphenating.

Understanding Hyphenation of Last Names

Hyphenation of last names has become increasingly popular, especially among couples who want to combine their last names. This decision could be due to a desire to honor both families equally, to create a unique family name, or simply because they like the way it sounds. Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking about hyphenating your last name, there are a few things you should consider.

When hyphenation is done, the two surnames are typically joined with a hyphen. For example, if John Smith and Jane Doe decide to hyphenate their last names after they get married, their new last name could be Smith-Doe. However, the question arises as to which of the two surnames goes first in the hyphenated form.

Factors to Consider When Deciding Which Last Name to Put First

There is no hard and fast rule for which last name should go first in hyphenating; ultimately, the decision is a matter of personal preference. However, here are some factors that you might consider when making your decision:

1. Sound

One of the most important factors that many people consider is which of the last names sounds “better” as the first part of the hyphenated name. Some people feel that the order of the last names should be based on the way they sound together. For example, if the two names sound awkward when combined, one may choose to put the name that sounds better first.

2. Tradition

In some cultures or families, there may be tradition that dictates the order of last names. For example, in Spanish-speaking countries, it’s common for the father’s last name to come first, followed by the mother’s last name. So if your family or culture has a particular tradition regarding last name order, you may choose to follow that.

3. Alphabetical Order

Another consideration for some people is alphabetical order. Some couples may choose to list the names alphabetically to avoid any confusion or issues with one name being perceived as “more important” than the other.

4. Popularity

If one of the surnames is more common or popular than the other, some couples may choose to put it second. This could help avoid confusion, particularly if the two names are very similar.

5. Gender

In some cases, the order of the last names can be based on gender. For example, if one partner has a last name that traditionally belongs to the opposite sex, they may choose to put their last name second in the hyphenated name.

What’s Most Common?

As we’ve mentioned, there is no standard rule regarding the order of last names when hyphenating. However, some studies have shown that most people opt to put their original last name first. This decision is often made because people tend to identify more with their original family name than with their spouse’s family name.


Hyphenating last names is a personal decision and there is no hard and fast rule for which name should go first. Ultimately, the decision is entirely up to you! Whether you choose to put your original last name first, your spouse’s last name first, or list them alphabetically, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with the decision you make.


Does the mother’s or father’s last name go first?

The tradition of using surnames to identify individuals dates back centuries and varies widely across cultures and countries. In many cultures, including Western societies, a person’s surname or last name is derived from their family lineage. However, the question of which parent’s last name should go first has been a topic of debate for many years.

Traditionally, a child’s surname is composed of two parts – the father’s last name followed by the mother’s last name. This practice is commonly known as the “patronymic-matronymic” system, and its origin can be traced back to the Roman Empire. In this system, the father’s name is used to identify the family line and pass down inheritance, while the mother’s name serves to honor her family and heritage.

Historically, paternal surnames have been given greater weight in many cultures, including Western societies. In such systems, children may carry their father’s surname exclusively, or they may take a hyphenated surname that combines both parents’ names. This practice has been the default in many cultures and has been reflected in various official documents, including birth certificates, passports, and identification cards.

However, in recent years, many countries have adopted laws that allow parents to decide how to arrange their children’s surnames. For example, in Spain, parents can choose to use the father’s or mother’s surname first, or they can create a hyphenated surname that combines both names. Similar laws exist in Portugal, Chile, and other countries.

In some cases, the decision about which parent’s name goes first is influenced by cultural or social factors. For instance, in some Latin American cultures, the mother’s surname traditionally goes first, while in Iceland, surnames are derived from the father’s first name. In some cases, parents may choose to use a surname that is not related to either parent’s family, or they may create a new surname entirely.

The question of whether the mother’s or father’s last name goes first depends on various factors, including cultural tradition, legal requirements, and parental preference. While many societies have traditionally given greater weight to paternal surnames, recent legal changes have allowed parents to have more flexibility in deciding how to arrange their children’s surnames.

When a last name is hyphenated which name comes first alphabetically?

When it comes to alphabetizing hyphenated names, it can be a bit confusing. Hyphenated surnames are treated as one unit, and the order of the names in the hyphenated surname is a matter of personal preference. However, there is a general convention that is followed when sorting hyphenated names.

The key thing to keep in mind is that hyphenated names are considered one unit. You should ignore the hyphen and alphabetize the name by considering the first part of the hyphenated name. For instance, if the last name is “Smith-Jones,” you should ignore the hyphen and alphabetize by considering “Smith” as the primary name.

For example, if you were sorting a list of names that included “Anne Smith-Jones” and “Bob Thompson,” the names would be listed in the following order: Anne Smith-Jones, Bob Thompson. This is because “Smith” comes before “Thompson” alphabetically.

Moreover, it is worth noting that there are some exceptions to this rule. In some cases, people may choose to switch the order of their hyphenated name for personal or cultural reasons. In such a case, it may be better to ask the person which name they prefer to be listed under.

When alphabetizing hyphenated names, the first part of the hyphenated name should be considered. Hyphenated names are treated as one unit, and the order of the names in the hyphenated surname is a matter of personal preference. However, some people may switch the order of their hyphenated names for cultural or personal reasons, which requires clarification.

How do you hyphenate last names?

Hyphenating last names is a practice that has become increasingly popular in recent times, particularly among couples who wish to maintain their individual identities while combining their surnames. Hyphenation is a way of creating a new surname that combines both partners’ last names, and it can be an excellent solution for couples who want to keep their original last names and also want to share their names with each other and their offspring.

The process of hyphenating last names is simple. It involves joining both surnames with a hyphen (-) to create a new surname. For example, when Mary White and Lauren Holland get married, they can merge their names to create Mary White-Holland or Mary Holland-White. The same method also applies when two individuals get married and both want to maintain their original last names.

The order of the surnames is an important consideration when hyphenating last names. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to deciding which surname should come first or second in the hyphenated name, but it is generally recommended that the surname that sounds better when spoken comes first. For example, if Mary White and Lauren Holland got married, and their last names are pronounced differently, they should choose a surname that flows well, sounds good and is easy to say.

Hyphenating last names can also be a good way to honour the family lineage and heritage of both partners. For example, when a woman marries, she may want to maintain her original last name, which is passed down from her parents, while also including her husband’s surname to signify their union. In this way, hyphenation can be a way of preserving important family names and lineages.

Another advantage of hyphenation is that it allows individuals to maintain their identity while creating a new family unit. Hyphenation can be useful for professional and social contexts, where using a hyphenated surname helps to maintain individual identity and also communicate the marriage union.

Hyphenating last names is a great way for couples to create a new surname that combines their individual family names. When hyphenating last names, it is important to choose a name that sounds good when spoken and is easy to say. Hyphenating last names can help preserve important family lineages and also maintain individual identities while creating a new family unit.

What is the order of first name and last name?

In many cultures around the world, there are different conventions or customs followed when it comes to the order of first names and last names. In Western cultures, such as North America and Europe, the typical naming convention is that the given name or first name comes first followed by the family name or last name.

In some countries like China, Japan and Korea, it is common to write the family name first followed by the given name. This convention is called the “East Asian naming convention” and is often used in official documents, books and newspapers. This means that in China, for example, the famous leader Mao Zedong is referred to as “Mao” and not “Zedong” since his family name comes first.

On the other hand, in most English-speaking countries, the family name is usually written last, after the given name. This is also known as the “lexical name order” and is frequently used in libraries and on administrative forms. For instance, the famous tech entrepreneur Steve Jobs is listed as “Jobs, Steve” in most Western libraries.

However, some cultures combine the given name and family name to form a single name, or use a patronymic naming system where the name includes the father’s first name or family name. For instance, in Icelandic naming conventions, the last name of a child is based on the given name of their father, with “son” or “dottir” added to the end of the father’s name, creating a unique family name.

The naming conventions and the order of first name and last name can vary significantly based on culture and geography. It is essential to acknowledge these differences and ensure accuracy when communicating with people from different cultures, especially in official documents and when addressing others.

What name comes first in alphabetical order?

Alphabetical order is a system of organizing words, names, or items based on their respective initial letters. When it comes to names, it is essential to alphabetize them correctly, especially in formal situations like academic records, publications, or official documents. The general rule is to place the name according to the first letter of the last name.

For example, if we have the names “John Smith” and “William Adams,” we will alphabetize them as follows:

– Adams, William
– Smith, John

This is because “Adams” starts with the letter A, which comes before the letter S, which is the first letter of “Smith.”

In case the first letters of the last names are the same, we go to the second letter, and so on. For instance, if we have two names that start with “Ad” like “William Adams” and “Mary Adler,” we will alphabetize them as:

– Adler, Mary
– Adams, William

This is because “d” comes before “m” alphabetically.

It is essential to note that when alphabeticizing names, the first name is not usually used unless there is a tie-breaker situation. For example, when two people have the same last name and the same first letter of their last name, you can use the first name to distinguish them.

Let’s say we have two people named “Jennifer Smith,” but one of them is “Jennifer Ann Smith,” and the other is “Jennifer Marie Smith.” To order them alphabetically, we can use the first name.

– Smith, Jennifer Ann
– Smith, Jennifer Marie

To put names in alphabetical order, we should follow this general rule: start with the first letter of the last name and move forward to the second, third, and so on if necessary. Using this method will ensure that our alphabetical lists are accurate and professional.

What words do you ignore when alphabetizing?

When alphabetizing, it is important to know which words to ignore in order to properly arrange items in alphabetical order. In the context of alphabetizing author names, there are three nonsignificant words that are typically ignored: “a,” “an,” and “the.” These are known as articles and are commonly used at the beginning of titles or names to indicate specificity. However, when alphabetizing, they are considered insignificant because they do not change the meaning of the name or title.

For example, if you were to alphabetize the names of books by their author’s last name, the book “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald would be placed under “F” for Fitzgerald, ignoring the word “The” at the beginning of the title. Similarly, the book “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones would be alphabetized under “J” for Jones, ignoring the word “An” at the beginning of the title.

It is important to note that not all nonsignificant words are ignored when alphabetizing. In some cases, prepositions like “of,” “in,” and “to” may be significant depending on their usage in a title or name. Additionally, certain titles or names may include qualifiers like numerals or abbreviations that are significant and would not be ignored in the alphabetization process.

Understanding which words to ignore when alphabetizing is a key skill for organizing and categorizing information in a variety of contexts, from libraries to databases to personal record-keeping.