In former times Chinese could assume additional names at other times in their life. These include the zì 字 or style name, acquired upon reaching maturity, and the hào 號, a self-selected nickname.
Chinese given names usually consist of two syllables (though it is increasingly common to only use one). Those syllables can be any of the thousands of Chinese characters so the combinations are almost limitless. In practice some characters are chosen more often than others, such as Mei "beautiful" for girls. Sometimes the first character of the given name is shared by all members of a generation in a family (siblings, cousins, etc) - see generation name.