So I wrote "what is your name" in google translate, and it said "Cual es su nombre", but when I wrote "What is your name?" it said "¿Como te llamas?" which is clearly different. So does punctuation really change words? Or is this just a Google Translate error?

  • 1
    Google Translate is never worth taking as an authority for new vocab. It may be wrong, it may be right, it may be suited for other contexts, but unless you already know, you can't tell. Its only possible purpose is communicating flimsily in an emergency when you have no other way to get your message across to someone. Jan 16, 2023 at 20:51
  • Perhaps try "Who is on first base" vs. "Who is on first base?" Jan 18, 2023 at 18:08

3 Answers 3


For an automatic translation system like Google Translate, results will be better the clearer the input is. So, if you type some English text with spelling or punctuation errors, you're more likely to get a mediocre translation.

In this case, when you type 'What is your name?', the translation engine will find a perfect match for the input, giving you the correct idiomatic translation '¿Cómo te llamas?'. But when you leave out the final question mark, the algorithm will not recognise the input as a question straight away, or may interpret it as a fragment of a bigger sentence, and is clearly falling back on a word-for-word translation, which gives the relatively poor translation 'Cuál es tu nombre' (or 'su nombre', whether you get 'tú' or 'usted' results is a bit random with Google Translate).


Por lo que yo entiendo, Google Translate suele traducir las cosas de manera literal si no se utiliza puntuación ni contexto.

Si pones ''what is your name'', como no hay contexto Google Translate traduce cada palabra en ''what is your name'' secuencialmente y da ''cual es su nombre'', lo cual es una manera correcta de expresar la pregunta, pero quizás no la más común (dependiendo de la región).

Si pones, ''What is your name?'', Google Translate entiende que esto tiene la estructura de una frase estándar y da la traducción estándar de toda la frase ''¿Cómo te llamas?''.


Both "¿Cual es su nombre?" and "¿Como te llamas?" are ways or asking for someone's name, so I wouldn't say that they are "clearly different" in terms of meaning.

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