“How Old Are You?” in Japanese — Asking someone’s Age

In this lesson, we learn the correct way and typical usage of “How old are you?” in Japanese.

Knowing how to ask someone’s age is useful when making friends or getting to know someone new. But hold your horses! Before you start blurting out the question to anyone and everyone, remember that asking about age can be a sensitive topic for some people.

girl smiling with hands at the side asking "how old are you?"

So, let’s dive in and learn how to ask properly in Japanese without making anyone uncomfortable.

Introduction: Asking Ages in Japan

Along with the first-time greetings and self-introduction, asking someone’s age or hometown is one of the typical questions in Japan.

It’s not rude to ask a person’s age in Japan. However, it may be awkward when you ask at the wrong moment or when the person is almost a stranger.

If you are worried about how the person would feel and respond, try to use a polite way.

How to Say “How Old Are You?” in Japanese

The Japanese phrases asking someone’s age can substitute English “How old are you?” and “How old are they?” expressions. So, learning them is useful in various situations.

Here are some related words you need to know before learning how to ask about someone’s age:

  • さい (Sai | 歳、才 | age, years old) *Pronunciation is identical, but the correct Kanji is 歳, and 才 is colloquial.
  • とし (Toshi | 歳、年 | age, ages, year, years old)
  • ねんれい (Nenrei | 年齢 | age)

Formal Expression

You can never go wrong with these phrases, as they’re safe to use to anyone.

  • おいくつですか? (Oikutsu desu ka? | お幾つですか?)
  • いくつですか? (Ikutsu desu ka? | 幾つですか?)
  • なんさいですか? (Nan sai desu ka? | 何歳ですか?)

Informal Expression

Use this with people you’re close to, like your friends or family.

  • いくつ? (Ikutsu? | いくつ?)
  • おいくつ? (Oikutsu? | おいくつ?)
  • なんさい? (Nan sai? | 何歳?)
  • ねんれいは? (Nenrei wa? | 年齢は?)
  • としは?(Toshi wa | 年は?)

Polite Expression

Native speakers use a polite expression to ask someone’s age in business or authorized situations, as well as when talking to an older or superior person.

しつれいですが、おいくつですか? (Shitsurei desu ga, oikutsu desu ka? | 失礼ですが、お幾つですか?

May I ask how old you are?

さしつかえなければ、ねんれいをおうかがいしてもよろしいでしょうか? (Sashitsukae nakereba, nenrei wo oukagai shitemo yoroshii deshou ka? | 差し支えなければ、年齢をお伺いしてもよろしいでしょうか?)

Do you mind if I ask your age?

Points to Remember

  • The word いくつ (Ikutsu | 幾つ) means “How many?” or “How many years?” depending on the context. Therefore, you may hear the abbreviated sentence in shops, restaurants, and other places.
  • In general, おいくつですか? (oikutsu desu ka?) sounds more polite and well-mannered, while なんさいですか? (nan sai desu ka?) is more direct and casual.

How to Answer “How Old Are You?” in Japanese

Just like the question phrase for “How old are you?” in Japanese, a single sentence can cover both “I am — years old” and “They are — years old.”

Formal Phrase

  • ~さいです (Sai desu | ~歳です)

I am/They are – years old.

Informal Phrase

  • ~さい (Sai | ~歳、~才 )

I am/They are – years old.

  • ~さいはん (Sai han | ~歳半、~才半)

I am/They are – and a half years old.

Example Sentences

なんさいですか? (Nansai desu ka? | 何歳ですか?)

How old are you?

こんどのたんじょうびで、にじゅうよんさいになります (Kondo no tanjoubi de, nijuuyonsai ni narimasu | 今度の誕生日で、24歳になります)

I will be 24 years old on my next birthday.

おこさんはおいくつですか? (Okosan wa oikutsu desu ka? | お子さんはおいくつですか?)

How old is your child?

にさいはんになりました (Ni sai han ni narimashita | 2歳半になりました)

He turned two and a half years old.

Early Weeks of Pregnancy

Using a different word, one can explain the baby’s age, the week of pregnancy, and how old the things are in Japanese.

  • ~かげつ (Kagetsu desu | ~か月 | – months old/pregnant)
  • ~しゅう (Shuu desu | ~週 | – weeks old/pregnant)
  • ~ねん (Nen | ~年 | – years)

Example sentences

そのこねこはいくつ? (Sono koneko wa ikutsu? | その子猫はいくつ?)

How old is the kitten?

まだにかげつ (Mada nikagetsu desu | まだ2か月です)

She is only 2 months old.

Use alternative expressions for asking about the gestational period or someone’s/something’s age.

おたくのあかちゃんはなんかげつですか? (Otaku no akachan wa nankagetsu desu ka? | お宅の赤ちゃんは何か月ですか?)

How old is he/she?

ななかげつです (Nanakagetsu desu | 7か月です)

He/She is 7 months old.

おめでとう!にんしんなんしゅうなんですか?(Omedetou! Ninshin nanshuu nandesuka? | おめでとう!妊娠何週なんですか?)

Congratulations! How far along are you?

ありがとう、いまじゅうろくしゅうめ (Arigatou, ima juurokushuu me | ありがとう、今16週目)

Thanks, I am 16 weeks pregnant now.

Describing an estimated age

When you don’t know the exact number if years. You can use くらい (kurai) or ぐらい (gurai).

このいえはなんねんたっていますか? (Kono ie wa nannen tatte masu ka? | この家は何年経っていますか)

How old is this house?

ちく30ねんくらいです (Chiku sanjuunen kurai desu | 築30年くらいです)

About 30 years old.

Ages from 0 to 20, and 30 to 100 in Japanese

We have compiled a list of different ages in Japanese to help you in understanding how to count them.

  • ぜろさい (Zerosai | 零歳、ゼロ歳 | 0 year old)
  • いっさい (Issai | 一歳、1歳 | 1 years old)
  • にさい (Nisai | 二歳、2歳 | 2 years old)
  • さんさい (Sansai | 三歳、3歳 | 3 years old)
  • よんさい (Yonsai | 四歳、4歳 | 4 years old)
  • ごさい (Gosai | 五歳、5歳 | 5 years old)
  • ろくさい (Rokusai | 六歳、6歳 | 6 years old)
  • ななさい (Nanasai | 七歳、7歳 | 7 years old)
  • はっさい (Hassai | 八歳、8歳 | 8 years old)
  • きゅうさい (Kyuusai | 九歳、9歳 | 9 years old)
  • じゅっさい (Jussai | 十歳、10歳 | 10 years old)
  • じゅういっさい (Juuissai | 十一歳、11歳 | 11 years old)
  • じゅうにさい (Juunisai | 十二歳、12歳 | 12 years old)
  • じゅうさんさい (Juusansai | 十三歳、13歳 | 13 years old)
  • じゅうよんさい (Juuyonsai | 十四歳、14歳 | 14 years old)
  • じゅうごさい (Juugosai | 十五歳、15歳 | 15 years old)
  • じゅうろくさい (Juurokusai | 十六歳、16歳 | 16 years old)
  • じゅうななさい (Juunanasai | 十七歳、17歳 | 17 years old)
  • じゅうはっさい (Juuhassai | 十八歳、18歳 | 18 years old)
  • じゅうきゅうさい (Juukyuusai | 十九歳、19歳 | 19 years old)
  • にじゅっさい (Nijussai | 二十歳、20歳 | 20 years old) *Also, はたち (Hatachi | 二十歳)
  • さんじゅっさい (Sanjussai | 三十歳、30歳 | 30 years old)
  • よんじゅっさい (Yonjussai | 四十歳、40歳 | 40 years old)
  • ごじゅっさい (Gojussai | 五十歳、50歳 | 50 years old)
  • ろくじゅっさい (Rokujussai | 六十歳、60歳 | 60 years old)
  • ななじゅっさい (Nanajussai | 七十歳、70歳 | 70 years old)
  • はちじゅっさい (Hachijussai | 八十歳、80歳 | 80 years old)
  • きゅうじゅっさい (Kyuujussai | 九十歳、90歳 | 90 years old)
  • ひゃくさい (Hyakusai | 百歳、100歳 | 100 years old)

Words and Expressions for Ages/Generations

Here are the frequently used traditional expressions and new words.

It’s good knowledge for intermediate Japanese learners to master how to ask and answer someone’s age.

そじ (Soji | 十路 | 10th, 10 year unit)

  • ふたそじ (Futasoji | 二十路 | 20 years old)
  • みそじ (Misoji | 三十路 | 30 years old)
  • よそじ (Yosoji | 四十路 | 40 years old) and so on.

だい (Dai | 代 | Generation)

  • じゅうだい (Juudai | 十代、10代 | people in their 10’s)
  • にじゅうだい (Ni juudai | 二十代、20代 | people in their 20’s)
  • さんじゅうだい (San juudai | 三十代、30代 | people in their 30’s) and so on.

アラ (Ara | a Japanglish word translated as “around” and “ish” in English)

  • アラサー (Ara saa | thirty-ish)
  • アラフォー (Ara foo | fourty-ish)
  • アラフィフ (Ara fifu | fifty-ish)

Wind Up

Learning how to ask “how old are you” in Japanese can be useful, but it’s important to use it appropriately. Like many other countries, it’s not always considered polite to ask someone’s age, especially if you aren’t close to them.

As mentioned above, it isn’t considered rude, but always remember to use your best judgment and be respectful if you ask about someone’s age. Remembering these tips will help you handle social situations in Japan with ease.

がんばってください (Ganbatte kudasai)! ^^

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