The Top 100 Chinese Surnames in China and Taiwan

Unlike European languages, it can be difficult in Chinese to know when a character is representing its actual meaning, or if it is simply part of someone’s name. This can be particularly annoying for the learner because Chinese has no uppercase or spaces between characters. For this reason, names are an important type of vocabulary to be familiar with for practicing reading specifically. In the Chinese speaking world, you will encounter the same surnames all the time, so this list will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the 100 most common Chinese surnames. At National Taiwan University I had three teachers in the same semester with the last name 陳, so let that tell you just how common these names can be, you will see the same ones again and again.

How many Chinese surnames are there?

In China there are about 2,000 surnames in regular use. In Taiwan, however, the number shrinks down to around 1,000. While these numbers seem large, only 19 surnames are used by more than half of all Han Chinese people, and the most common 100 surnames cover about 90% of the entire Han Chinese population. You will likely not encounter any Chinese person that doesn’t have a last name on this list.

How does Chinese name pronunciation work?

You may have seen a Han Chinese person using a romanization system other than the pinyin you’re used to. This is probably because the person is from a place other than mainland China, most likely Taiwan. Pinyin was created by the Communist Party, so Taiwan never fully adopted the system. Because of this, many Taiwanese people still use the older Wade-Giles system of romanization. For the Taiwan surnames list I have provided this alternate romanization system in addition to standard pinyin.

Sources

The list for mainland Chinese surnames comes from the Public Security Bureau Statistics written about here. The list for Taiwan surnames comes from the Ministry of the Interior’s statistics here.

100 most common surnames in China

李 lǐ
王 wáng
张 zhāng
刘 liú
陈 chén
杨 yáng
黄 huáng
赵 zhào
周 zhōu
吴 wú
徐 xú
孙 sūn
朱 zhū
马 mǎ
胡 hú
郭 guō
林 lín
何 hé
高 gāo
梁 liáng
郑 zhèng
罗 luó
宋 sòng
谢 xiè
唐 táng
韩 hán
曹 cáo
许 xǔ
邓 dèng
萧 xiāo
冯 féng
曾 zēng
程 chéng
蔡 cài
彭 péng
潘 pān
袁 yuán
于 yú
董 dǒng
余 yú
苏 sū
叶 yè
吕 lǚ
魏 wèi
蒋 jiǎng
田 tián
杜 dù
丁 dīng
沈 shěn
姜 jiāng
范 fàn
江 jiāng
傅 fù
钟 zhōng
卢 lú
汪 wāng
戴 dài
崔 cuī
任 rèn
陆 lù
廖 liào
姚 yáo
方 fāng
金 jīn
邱 qiū
夏 xià
谭 tán
韦 wéi
贾 jiǎ
邹 zōu
石 shí
熊 xióng
孟 mèng
秦 qín
阎 yán
薛 xuē
侯 hóu
雷 léi
白 bái
龙 lóng
段 duàn
郝 hǎo
孔 kǒng
邵 shào
史 shǐ
毛 máo
常 cháng
万 wàn
顾 gù
赖 lài
武 wǔ
康 kāng
贺 hè
严 yán
尹 yǐn
钱 qián
施 shī
牛 niú
洪 hóng
龚 gōng

100 most common surnames in Taiwan

陳 chén
林 lín
黃 huáng
張 zhāng, chang
李 lǐ
王 wáng
吳 wú
劉 liú
蔡 cài, tsai
楊 yang
許 xǔ, hsu
鄭 zhèng, cheng
謝 xiè, hsieh
郭 guō, kuo
洪 hóng, hung
邱 qiū, chiu
曾 zēng, tseng
廖 liào
賴 lài
徐 xú, hsu
周 zhōu, chou
葉 yè, yeh
蘇 sū
庄 zhuāng, chuang
江 jiāng, chiang
呂 lǚ, lyu
何 hé, ho
羅 luó, lo
高 gāo, kao
蕭 xiāo, Hsiao
潘 pān
朱 zhū, chu
簡 jiǎn, chien
鍾 zhōng, chung
彭 péng
游 yóu, yu
詹 zhān, chan
胡 hú
施 shī, shih
沉 chén
余 yú
趙 zhào, chao
盧 lú
梁 liáng
顏 yán, yen
柯 kē, kei
孫 sūn
魏 wèi
翁 wēng
戴 dài, tai
范 fàn
宋 sòng, sung
方 fang
鄧 dèng, sung
杜 dù, tu
傅 fù
侯 hóu
曹 cáo, tsao
溫 wēn
薛 xuē, Hsueh
丁 dīng, ting
馬 mǎ
蔣 jiǎng, chiang
唐 tang
卓 zhuó
藍 lán
馮 féng
姚 yáo
石 shí, shih
董 dǒng, tung
紀 jì, chi
歐 ōu
程 chéng
連 lián, lien
古 gǔ, ku
汪 wāng
湯 tang
姜 jiāng, chiang
田 tián, tien
康 kāng
鄒 zōu, tsou
白 bái, pai
塗 tú
尤 yóu, yu
巫 wū
韓 hán
龔 gōng, kung
嚴 yán, yen
袁 yuan
鍾 zhōng, chung
黎 lí
金 jīn, chin
阮 ruǎn, juan
陸 lù
倪 ní
夏 xià, hsia
童 tóng, tung
邵 shào
柳 liǔ
錢 qián, chien

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