How to Introduce People

Want to hear a fascinating little etiquette tip? When you’re introducing someone, you should always say their name first and their relationship to you second.

Wrong: “This is my sister, Lucy.”

Right: “This is Lucy, my sister.”

That way, you spotlight the person–not their connection to you. It’s a small thing, but it makes a lovely difference! I just learned this, and I’m doing it from now on.

What do you think? Great? Random? Who cares? xo

(Photo by the Sartorialist)

  1. Years late to the party! I think it depends on the situation.
    One of my children is adopted. She is Korean and I am blonde and blue-eyed. To avoid the situation where people think she’s not with me or worse (we’ve heard some crazy questions over the years!) I usually pull her close to me and say “This is my daughter, Mira.” Sometimes people still ask dumb questions but it makes our relationship to each other clear right from the start.

    • Soppu says...

      Yes! I love it when my sisters introduce me as their sister first. – They’re twins, so perhaps I feel a bit insecure and welcome the acknowledgement? I always assumed the feeling was mutual, but this got me thinking.

  2. stephanie says...

    i personally prefer the “wrong” way because if i hear “this is lucy” my brain immediately does some rude variation of “so? who the f*** is that?”

    but if you lead with “my sister” “my mom” “my boyfriend” “my best friend from oklahoma” or whatever my brain goes “this person is actually important to your friend who is important to you, please pause and pay attention.”

    maybe this is because i work/hang out in night clubs where you’re basically constantly meeting people you’ll never remember and don’t need to, so i need to be explained context if it’s someone that actually matters. (yes, i know how callous that sounds but my brain is like a rolodex and it only holds so many cards!) also? by the same token it helps me identify that this is a real person the person introducing us cares to take time to introduce me to, and not just some random drunk person they’ve just met and now won’t go away.

    ps, hi, just found your site through the comments of a recent smitten kitchen post :)

  3. Katie says...

    This feels similar to the idea that when giving a compliment you should say “That dress looks great on you” rather than “You look great in that dress”.

    This way, it is the person adding the value to the object, rather than the object increasing the value of the person.

    • Great point, Kate. :)

  4. Cara says...

    I was just saying this about how everyone knows me as “the wife”

  5. So… how do I introduce my mother?

  6. Oh good to know!

  7. Pri says...

    I think it’s great!

    I just discovered your page and I’m loving it! Interesting and so femeninely designed.

  8. This is something that I’ve always said to guys I’ve dated. I want to be known as Nicole, not just your girlfriend. The guy I’m with now has it nailed, without any guidance from me!

  9. I immediately thought of Bridget Jones. “this is Mark Darcy, top barrister…” Ahahah

    • stephanie says...

      i know this comment is three years old (!!) but that’s exactly what came to my mind too – i was so hoping to come across a gif or a bit of the script in the post! i love that movie and that part especially XD

  10. definitely putting this in my back pocket!

  11. this is so true! thanks for sharing!

  12. Anonymous says...

    I just stumbled upon this post from this summer and I think it’s great. I hate going to a gathering where introductions are not even made. Terribly uncomfortable and I always make intro’s…i just had never thought of this tip…thanks

  13. I’m very completely happy that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something regarding this.

  14. Such a great idea! I’m going to try that from now on!

  15. It’s probably a “who cares” with most but I like to hear about funny/neat etiquette tips. It’s like getting a note in the mail in a era of email/twitter/text. Thanks for the tip. From now on, they will be “Ken, my husband” and “Jacob, my brother”!

  16. It’s probably a “who cares” with most but I like to hear about funny/neat etiquette tips. It’s like getting a note in the mail in a era of email/twitter/text. Thanks for the tip. From now on, they will be “Ken, my husband” and “Jacob, my brother”!

  17. I love this etiquette tip! This is such a subtle thing to change, but it does make a huge difference!

  18. This is the 1st time I’ve ever heard of this, but it makes sense. Thanks for sharing the tips :).

  19. i love this post.
    its little things like this that make such a difference.

    i am not so great with making any kind of conversation the first time i meet someone. i am a little shy and i don’t end up speaking loudly enough.
    but in reality i am a big chatterbox and people i know well always want me to shut up. its funny.

    so when i have to introduce someone i start off at a good volume and then fade out so the last few words of my sentence get eaten up as a result of which names always get lost.

    so thanks for the tip joanna :)
    ill surely use it the next time im introducing anyone.

  20. Anonymous says...

    Teachers are taught to do this with children with disabilities.

    Wrong: mentally retarded child
    Right: child with metal retardation

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Great! it’s simple but much more thoughtful. Better
    late than never in getting it right!! Thank you!

  23. What a helpful piece of advice…I’ve ALWAYS announced their relationship first and then their name almost as an afterthought. HOW RUDE!

  24. I learned something new today! I’d say great AND wonderful.