Japanese Lesson – How old are you?

Hello Everyone,

In today’s lesson we are going to see how to ask someone’s age in Japanese, and how to answer the question. Let’s go!

Pre-Requisites:

How old are you?

To ask someone how old she/he is, let’s say Alice for instance, you will say:

アリス さんアリスさん[ARISU san]/ Alice /
[wa]/ {topic} /
[,]/ , /
なん[nan]/ what /
さい[sai]/ years of age /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[ka]/ {question} /
[.]/ . /

Another way to ask for someone’s age is to use いくつ [ikutsu] /how much/:

アリス さんアリスさん[ARISU san]/ Alice /
[wa]/ {topic} /
[,]/ , /
(お)とし(お)年[(o)toshi]/ age /
[wa]/ {topic} /
いくついくつ[ikutsu]/ how much /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[ka]/ {question} /
[.]/ . /

(Note: The お in お歳 is an honorific and is optional)
(Note: Age (とし) can also be written using the kanji 歳)

Or more casually:

(お)いくつ(お)いくつ[o-ikutsu]/ how much /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[ka]/ {question} /
[.]/ . /

Kanji time

The kanji to count years of age (and also meaning age, year-end, opportunity or talent) is: 歳 (さい) [toshi, tose, yowai, SAI, SEI]. Yes, in addition to its many different meaning possibilities it has 13 strokes; it’s quite a complex kanji.

Happily, there exists another kanji that can be used to count years of age: 才 (さい) [SAI]. Less litterate, but far more simple ^^

As noted too, the kanji 歳 and 年, when meaning age (read とし), are interchangeable.

I am …

The table below presents the pronouciation for ages.

一歳 いっさい issai 1 year of age
二歳 にさい ni sai 2 years of age
三歳 さんさい san sai 3 years of age
四歳 よんさい yon sai 4 years of age
五歳 ごさい go sai 5 years of age
六歳 ろくさい roku sai 6 years of age
七歳 ななさい nana sai 7 years of age
八歳 はっさい hassai 8 years of age
九歳 きゅうさい kyu~ sai 9 years of age
十歳 じゅっさい jussai 10 years of age
十一歳 じゅういっさい ju~ issai 11 years of age
二十歳 はたち hatachi 20 years of age
二十一歳 にじゅういっさい ni ju~ issai 21 years of age

It is to be noted that 20 has a specific reading. As 20 years was the age of majority in Japan, it is considered as a very special age.

Now, with this table in end, to tell your age you just have to say:

<your age><your age>[<your age>]/ <your age> /
さい[sai]/ years of age /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[.]/ . /

Let say if you are 23 years old:

に じゅう さん さい二十三[ni ju~ san]/ 23 /
さい[sai]/ years of age /
ですです[desu]/ to be /
[.]/ . /

Exercises

Translate the question:

おいくつ です か。
Answer
How old are you?

 

Answer in Japanese:

11
Answer
十一歳です。
じゅういっさい です。
ju~issai desu.

 

 

20
Answer
二十一歳です。
はたち です。
hatachi desu.

 

 

48
Answer
四十八歳です。
よんじゅうはっさい です。
yon ju~ hassai desu.

 

 

And finally, translate the question in Japanese:

How old are you?
Answer
おいくつ です か。

Answer the question in japanese with your age 🙂

 

Here we are for todays lesson. Hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers,

Stéphane

Follow us:
Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *