Family Name vs Surname
To determine if there is a difference between a family name and a surname, we must first understand what each term refers to. A person’s name is important for establishing their identity, which is built upon through their achievements. Across the globe, it is common practice to have both a given name, bestowed by parents or family members, and a family name or surname. People often confuse family name and surname, as both typically come after the given name in Western culture. However, there are some differences between the two that will be discussed in this article.
What is a Family Name?
A family name is the name shared by members of the same family. After a child’s birth, it is customary to register their name and obtain a birth certificate, which includes their given name (unique to them) and their family name (shared by all family members). In Western culture, the family name comes at the end of a person’s name; for example, in the name “Steve Smith,” Steve is the given name and Smith is the family name.
What is a Surname?
A surname is also a family name or the name shared by all members of a family. There can be confusion between a surname and a family name when people do not realize they are one and the same. The only difference is the placement of the name in different cultures. The last name is another term for the family name or surname, as it is placed at the end of a name after the given name. There are some exceptions, such as in China, Japan, and other Asian countries, where the family name or surname comes before the given name. Spain also has a unique tradition where everyone has two surnames: the first is the father’s surname, and the second is the mother’s surname.
- Family name and surname are one and the same and refer to the name shared by all members of a family.
- In Western culture, the family name or surname comes after the given name, while in some Eastern cultures, it comes before the given name.
- There can be confusion between family name and surname when people do not understand that they are interchangeable, and the only difference is the placement of the name in various cultures.