ask and say age in chinese

Asking and saying age in Chinese

Age is a topic that is commonly discussed in Taiwan and it is not considered taboo at all. In Chinese, you can easily express and ask about age using the word “” (ㄙㄨㄟˋ – suì). It functions similarly to “years old” in English, but there are a few differences that beginners in Chinese might overlook. In this article, we will explore how to properly express age in Chinese.

Age in Chinese

Saying age in Chinese

Expressing your age in Chinese is quite simple. All you need to do is add the word “歲” (ㄙㄨㄟˋ – suì), which means “years of age,” after the number.


subject + number + 歲

This pattern is similar to saying “someone is… years old” in English. Let’s look at some examples!

我十六歲 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄕˊ ㄌㄧㄡˋ ㄙㄨㄟˋ  ) I am sixteen years old.

你二十九歲 (ㄋㄧˇ ㄦˋ ㄕˊ ㄐㄧㄡˇ ㄙㄨㄟˋ) You are twenty-nine years old.

saying age in chinese

Note : Don’t forget to use “兩” (ㄌㄧㄤˇ – liǎng) instead of “二” (èr) when expressing “2 years old.” You can refer to our article about numbers in Chinese for more explanation.

Note : Keep in mind that “歲” is the measure word for age by itself, representing “the year” of age. You don’t need another measure word before “歲”.

× 我二十個歲 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄦˋ ㄕˊ ㄍㄜˋ ㄙㄨㄟˋ) Don’t use any measure word!

√ 我二十歲 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄦˋ ㄕˊ ㄙㄨㄟˋ) I am twenty years old.

Note : Alert! NEVER use “是” (to be) or “有” (to have) to express age! It’s a rookie mistake.

In some languages, you need to use the verb “to be” or “to have” in the sentence to express age, but that would be incorrect in Chinese.

× 我是二十歲 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄕˋ ㄦˋ ㄕˊ ㄙㄨㄟˋ) This would be like saying: I am “Twenty-Two” (as if “Twenty-Two” was your name).

× 我有二十歲 (ㄨㄛˇ ㄧㄡˇ ㄦˋ ㄕˊ ㄙㄨㄟˋ) This would mean: I have twenty years old (as if age is a possession).

Remember, in Chinese, we directly state the age without the need for a linking verb or possessive verb.

Asking age in Chinese

Now that we know how to express age in Chinese, let’s learn how to ask someone’s age. There are two common ways to ask about age in Chinese, depending on the person’s age and the level of formality.

  1. 你多大?(ㄋㄧˇ ㄉㄨㄛ ㄉㄚˋ ? – nǐ duō dà?) This question translates to “How old are you?” and is used when asking someone’s age, generally for individuals who are not children or senior citizens. It is a more casual way of asking about age.
  2. 你幾歲?(ㄋㄧˇ ㄐㄧ ㄙㄨㄟˋ ? – nǐ jǐ suì?) This question also means “How old are you?” and is used when asking the age of children or sometimes teenagers. It is more commonly used in informal contexts.

It’s important to note that when asking someone who is a senior or when you want to show respect, you can use the polite form “您” (nín) instead of “你” (nǐ) and the following questions:

  1. 您多大歲數?(Nín duō dà suìshu?) This is a more respectful way to ask “How old are you?”
  2. 您多大年紀?(Nín duō dà niánjì?) This question also means “How old are you?” and is a polite form used for seniors.

Note :

  • The question pronoun “幾” is used when asking “what number” or “which number,” typically for ages under 10 or around 15.
  • The adverb and question word “多” can be used with adjectives to ask questions about “how + adjective.”

Learning how to ask and say age in Chinese is essential for effective communication and building relationships. By using the appropriate question words and sentence structures, you can confidently inquire about someone’s age and respond to age-related questions in Chinese.

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