Y: Perfect Chinese your way, in only five minutes a day. Welcome to Chinese Studio. I’m Yajie.
C: Hi, everyone, I’m Cam. 早上好 zǎoshang hǎo, yajie.
Y: 早上好！Today we’ll learn how to ask one’s age in Chinese. First let’s check our key words of the day!
Key words of the day
Today we’ll continue with the usages of the numbers. 你几岁了？ 您多大了？All in today’s Chinese Studio.
C: In the West, we don’t usually ask a person’s age. Especially a girl. It is usually considered private!
Y: In China you can ask a person’s age. And there are different ways of asking. For example, if you saw a lovely kid, and you were wondering how old she or he was, you could say “你几岁了？” (nǐ jǐ suì le?)
C: “你几岁了？” (nǐ jǐ suì le?)
Y: 你, we’ve learnt that before, right? It means you. Remember? The pronunciation of 你 is similar to the English word knee. 你, the third tone.
C: yes. 你 (nǐ)
Y: 几 means how many. And 岁 means age.
C: 几岁(jǐ suì).
Y: Right. Now let me explain the usage of 了. Here 岁, a noun, plus the Chinese character了. It has a similar meaning to that of a verb, indicating the completion of an action. For example, 我八岁了 means that I’ve already grown up (请重读，以突出、强调变化) to eight years old.
Y: If you want to know the age of somebody around your age – or a peer -- you can ask this way: 你多大了？
C: 你多大了？(ní duō dà le?)
Y: 多, here means how many? 多大 together means how old.
Y: Sometimes when answering the question of how old they are, people would just say我plus the number of your age. For example, if you were twenty years old, you could say 我二十了.
Y: Right. One more thing. There is a more courteous way of asking an elderly or senior person’s age. You can say 您多大了？
C: 您多大了？(nín duō dà le?) We’ve learned 您. It’s the polite form of 你, right?
Y: Exactly. 您多大了？There is another way of asking a senior citizen’s age. You can say 您高寿？高 means high, and 寿 means age. Together 高寿means your venerable age. 您高寿？
C: 您高寿？(nín gāo shòu) It’s a little bit difficult for me to say.
Y: You can keep practicing. This is a polite thing to say to elderly people. It shows respect.
Key words reminder
You could ask a kid “你几岁了？” For an adult, you can say 你多大了？And您多大了？is a courteous way of asking an elderly or senior person’s age. Also when asking an old person’s age, you can say 您高寿？高 means high, and 寿 means age. Together 高寿means your venerable age.
Cam: Yajie, 你多大了？
Y: Sorry, Cam. I forgot to tell you that now in China more and more people do not ask a lady’s age. So it’s a secret.
Cam: Ok. I see. I’ll have to remember that!
Y: Well, class is over for this time. Question of the day in Chinese: what’s the polite form of asking a senior citizen’s age?
C: Just make a sentence!
Y: Well class is over. 再见!