Age (years): to have / to be

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by inorez, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. inorez New Member

    English - World
    With the exception of English, the other languages I have any knowledge of use the verb "to have" (or an alternative method of denoting possession) to express a person's age in years.

    How is it expressed in your language, and which other languages use "to be"?


    PS. I did a search to see if this question had already been asked before in the forum, but couldn't find anything. If I happened to have missed it, however, please feel free to delete this thread...
  2. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    In Hebrew you'd say the person is the son\daughter of the number of years. For example /aní ben 25/ "I'm a son of 25"
  3. arielipi Senior Member

    we use the "to be" version: אני בן 30 ani ben 30, i am 30 (years old).
    am is omitted in hebrew.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  4. Maroseika Moderator

    In Russian just Dative is used and no verb:
    Мне 20 лет (to me 20 years).
    Ему 3 месяца (to him 3 months).
  5. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    German uses "to be": "Ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt" = "I am twenty".
    Dutch uses "to be": "Ik ben twintig jaar oud" = "I am twenty".
  6. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    Greek uses to be:

    «Είμαι 43 χρόνων» ['ime 43 'xronon]; «είμαι» ['ime] --> 1st person sing. present indicative of v. to be
    I am 43 yo
  7. vianie Senior Member

    That's the model Czech uses, just with the auxiliary verb:
    Je mi třicet let. Less often also Je mně třicet let is heard, alternatively Mně je třicet let, but never the "Polish" word order with the weak pronoun in the front Mi je třicet let.
    Jsou mu tři měsíce. Jemu jsou tři měsíce.

    In Slovak it's the same as in Polish, both use the possessive verb: Mám tridsať rokov. Mam trzydzieści lat.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  8. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    Italian uses "to have":
    (Io) ho 22 anni = "I have 22 years".

    In Chinese it's person + age, without any word in between.
    我22岁 = "Me 22 years".
    Idiomatically, people often add "this year":
    我今年22岁 = "Me this year 22 years".
    I don't know how Chinese grammar analyzes this kind of sentence.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  9. Treaty Senior Member

    In Persian there are three structures:
    او بیست سال (سن) دارد u bist sāl (sen) dārad.
    She has twenty years (of age).

    او بیست ساله است u bist sāle ast.
    She is twenty-year-old.

    او بیست سالش است u bist sāl-aš ast.
    She her is twenty years.

    Actually, the last one is an old structure for "to have". In official Persian it is only used for "age", while in some other dialect it's still used instead of "to have".
  10. francisgranada Senior Member

    Hungarian uses "to be":

    20 éves vagyok

    év - year
    éves - an adjective from "év"
    vagyok - (I) am
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  11. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    In Arabic, we use the preposition "عند" which is the equivalent of the verb "to have":

    أنا عندي ٢٥ سنة /ana 3indi 25 sana/ = I have 25 years

    هو عنده ٣٠ سنة /huwa 3indahu 30 sana/ = He has 30 years

    we use that also in Arabic: أنا ابن الـ٢٥ /ana 'bnu al-25/ = I'm a son of the 25
  12. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    I can add that in Czech and Russian the expression "x years (months, days, etc.)" is the subject of the sentence:

    Jsou mu 3 měsíce (Ему 3 месяца) = 3 months are to him (in Russian the copula is missing);

    Thus it is different from the English "he is 3 month(s) old".
  13. arielipi Senior Member


    It doesnt really mean it like that actually, its simply stating the age with stating the gender.
  14. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    There is two ways to express a person's age in Swedish:

    Han är 25 (år gammal) - he is 25 (years old)- answers the question "How old are you?"
    Hon blir 50 nästa år - she will be 50 next year
    Min katt är tio år - my cat is ten years
    Huset är hundra år gammalt - the house is 100 years old
    (är/blir - are/is/will be can be used for other objects than humans)

    Have filled/added:
    Har du fyllt 18 (år)? - have you filled 18 (years)? - answers "How many years have you (filled)"?
    Hon fyllde 25 (år) senast - she has filled 25 (år) last (birthday)
    Han fyller 30 nästa vecka (he will fill 30 next week)
    (fylla/har fyllt/kommer att fylla - fill/have filled/will fill - used about people, very rarely about other things, sometimes used about a city)

    We often use the expression fylla år (fill/add years) when talking about birthdays, När fyller du år? instead of När är din födelsedag? (when is your birthday) or when talking about a person's age.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2013
  15. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog ' To have ' is " magkaroon" or "mayroon" and 'to be' is "ay". So the Tagalog for 1.) I am 10 year old.= ako ay sampung taong gulang.(the case when asked by someone) but when saying it voluntarily (sampung taong gulang ako).2.) I have 10 years of age.= Mayroon na akong sampung taong gulang. and 3.) to be 16 in Tagalog is "magiging labing anim".
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  16. Annibleu New Member

    In Spanish is also like in Italian and French, as far as my knowledge, we use "To have" X amount of years
    Yo tengo 23 años
    J'ai 23 ans

    Italian was given before so I did not write the example :)
  17. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    That's how you see it as a native speaker. I do too of course. If we look at it in a purely grammatical way, though, that is what it means.
  18. ancalimon Senior Member

    In Turkish we say:

    32 yaşın da yım

    I am at 32 age
  19. arielipi Senior Member

    The question isnt about literal translation,rather about how we say and its meaning

    EDIT: a proof to what im saying would be:
    מלאו לי 25 שנים
    not stating the gender but saying how old i am; ani ben is simply adding the gender.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  20. Codinome Shlomo Senior Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    Same in Portuguese.
    We say "Tenho X anos" ("I have X amount of years").
  21. Annibleu New Member

    Condinome, I know Portuguese and Spanish are close cousins but I wonder what would be the pronounciation of "Tenho"? Is nh like ñ in Spanish??
  22. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Sometimes you can find answers to questions like these on Wiktionary
  23. Codinome Shlomo Senior Member

    Portuguese (Brazil)
    It actually depends on where the speaker is from, but most Portuguese speakers pronounce it like ñ in Spanish.
    There are people who pronounce it like a nasal diphthong, for example: conhecer -> coẽcer (being ~ a symbol of nasalization), but this is very regional.
    This was discussed in this topic:, some time ago.
  24. Ventian blind Member

    Hi all,
    in Hindi/Urdu we have two ways to say this.

    1. Mai 25 saal (or varsh) kaa hu. Literally: I am of 25 years. ( In this expression ki (instead of kaa) will be used by feminine gender).

    2. Meri umar(or aayu) 25 saal (or varsh) hai. Literally : My age is 25 years.

    So in Hindi/Urdu we use the verb 'to be' = hai
  25. Ventian blind Member

    Hi all,
    in Hindi/Urdu we have two ways to say this.

    1. Mai 25 saal (or varsh) kaa hu. Literally: I am of 25 years. ( In this expression ki (instead of kaa) will be used by feminine gender).

    2. Meri umar(or aayu) 25 saal (or varsh) hai. Literally : My age is 25 years.
  26. HYCHIN Member

    我22岁 = "Me 22 years".
    Noun phrase can be use directly as the predicate (predicative nominal). No verb is needed.

    我今年22岁 = "Me this year 22 years".
    Noun phrase of time can be the subject. 今年22岁 has a Subj-Pred structure.
    A Subj-Pred structure can itself be a predicate. The noun 我 is added in front to be the subject.

    to have 有
    to be 是

    「你是不是30岁?」「不是。」 "Are you 30?" "No, I'm not." (I may be 21 or 38 or other numbers, but not 30.)
    「你有沒有30岁?」「沒有。」 "Do you have 30 years of age?" "No, I don't." (I am younger than 30. I have fewer years of age.)
    「你有沒有30岁?」「有。」 "Do you have 30 years of age?" "Yes, I do." (I am at least 30. I have at least 30 years of age.)
  27. Ёж! Senior Member

    How do I translate 今年22岁? I do not understand the role of the subject 今年… 'This year is such that 22 years [of something] [have passed]'?

    Thank you!
  28. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member


    Hän on 25-vuotias.* lit. He is 25-yeared.
    Hän on 25 vuotta vanha.* lit. He is 25 years old.
    Hän on 25 vuoden ikäinen.** lit. He is 25 years' aged.

    * 25 = kaksikymmentäviisi
    ** 25 = kahdenkymmenenviiden, gen.

    With "täyttää" 'fill':

    Hän täyttää ensi vuonna 50 (vuotta). He's turning 50 the next year.
    Milloin täytät vuosia? When is your birthday? (cf. Swedish När fyller du år?)
  29. kloie Senior Member

    in serbian

    He is 25 years old=On ima 25 godina
  30. HYCHIN Member

    Before you want a translation, you should note that:
    The relationship between subject and predicate in Chinese is not less strict than it is in English.
    You do not accept "this year is 22 years old" in English because "this year" doesn't fulfil the requirement of a subject.
    However, in Chinese a subject can be phrases to indicate time and places, so 今年 does fulfil the requirement.
    A Subj-Pred structure do not always form a complete sentence.

    I suggest a translation for 今年22岁:
    "... (is) 22 years old this year."

    Anyway, the sentence 今年22岁 consists of 3 noun phrases and no verb.
  31. Ёж! Senior Member

    Thank you. I understand. Do your refer to this classification of basic grammatical structures that I found, or maybe to a similar one? If yes, then why 今年22岁 must not be considered a subordinated structure, with 今年 modifying, decorating and limiting 22岁 by telling when [someone is] 22 years (old)?

    Thank you very much!
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  32. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    It's similar to JP, no verb is used: pronoun + topic/subject marker + number + age

    I'm 20= (私は)二十歳 (speakers would usually add a copula at the end for formality or for afirmation, either です or だ, but they're optional). The personal pronoun can also be omitted if the context is clear.
  33. HYCHIN Member

    This can answer your question. (But it is in Chinese, without any translation, even the linguistic terms.)

    Perhaps because Chinese words lack morphological changes, structures cannot be identified purely syntactically.
    So, semantic relationship are important in identifying different structures.
    Please see this picture ( tmpC6.jpg ) and compare the semantic relationships implied by the two structures.
  34. Ёж! Senior Member

    Thank you very much! The picture helps; "this year's twenty two years" are indeed non-sensical. I'll try to succeed in understanding the page that you linked to as well, it's interesting.
  35. Nizo Senior Member

    Both ways are acceptable in Esperanto. To the question "Kiom da jaroj vi havas?" (literally, "how-many of years you have?") the response would be "Mi havas kvindek (50) jarojn." To the question "Kiomjara vi estas?" (which basically means "how-many-yeared you are?"), the answer would be "Mi estas kvindekjara" ("I am 50-yeared" -- yes, I know "yeared" doesn't make sense in English; it's an adjective in Esperanto, so I kind of made up the English word to give the general idea).
  36. puny_god Member

    English - US
    With the languages I know, it's almost all "to be" except one
    English: to be
    German: to be
    Filipino: to be
    Japanese: to be
    French: have

    Which is probably why I find French particularly difficult...I am progressing quite slowly...^^;;
  37. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    我25岁。(I, 25 years old.)
    我是25岁。(I AM 25 years old.)
    我有25岁了。(I DO HAVE 25 years old.)

    I recall a friend said "Chinese language is poor in grammar." Well, this could be the case. To be positive, I call it "more flexible" instead of "poor". ;) Anyway, there are plenty of ways to say "I'm 25 years old" (with different styles and emphasis.) in Chinese. All are correct.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  38. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    Dutch follows the most other Germanic languages by using "to be"
  39. Sempervirens Senior Member

    Generalmente in italiano si usa il verbo avere: Ho trent'anni ( magari!:)) Anche la forma con il verbo essere non è inusuale: Sono trentenne. Questo tipo di aggettivo può essere sostantivato ed in tal caso vuole l'articolo: Sono un trentenne.

    Quanto sopra limitatamente alla specifica domanda, senza tenere di conto le altre decine e passa di espressioni ruotanti al medesimo concetto.


    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  40. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Dat klopt. Ik ben zevenenvijftig jaar oud.
  41. biala Member

    בן זה לא בדיוק "להיות" גם אם זו המשמעות. במקרה של גיל, המובן הוא יותר בעל תכונה או מידה מסויימת , כמו שימושים אחרים של בן.
  42. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    In Arabic it's usually phrased as:
    He reaches بلغ
    His age is سنه
    But in the Egyptian dialect we say:
    he has X years. عنده س سنة
  43. spindlemoss

    spindlemoss Senior Member

    Welsh uses "be".

    Dw i'n saith [am I-PARTICLE seven] "I'm seven"

    Mae e'n hanner cant [is he-PARTICLE half hundred] "He's fifty"

    For age, no matter who's described, we use feminine numbers, as blwydd "year of age" is a feminine noun.

    Mae hi'n ddwy [is she-PARTICLE two (fem.)] "She's two"

    Roedd e'n bedair [was he-PARTICLE four (fem.)] "He was four"
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  44. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    When it comes to the age in the future, you can use nar-u to become instead e.g. 田中さんは今年で49歳になるTanaka-san-wa kotoshi-de 49(yonjuu-kyuu)sai-ni na-ru(Tanaka will be 49 years old this year) lit. Tanaka (will) become 49 years old with this year.
  45. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia

    Имам 25 години - I have 25 years.

    There are no alternatives with year-based adjectives or the copula.
  46. KalAlbè

    KalAlbè Senior Member

    Onde os fracos não têm vez.
    American English & Kreyòl Ayisyen
    Haitian Creole:
    Mwen gen 20 tan
    = I have 20 years.
  47. Ectab Senior Member

    In Arabic there are several ways to express one's age, the most common is using the word 3umur عمر (age)
    عمري عشرون سنة
    I am twenty years old, lit: my age is twenty years

    other ways like using bin\bint (like hebrew), balagha\yablughu verb: to reach, 3inda at\have, dhuu of.
  48. Floridsdorfer Member

    Transdanubien - Vienna - Austria
    Italian, Spanish, Sardinian (trilingual)
    All Romanic languages use to have.

    You have already mentioned Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

    Therefore I may add:
    Catalan: tinc (variant: tenc) vint anys
    Sardinian tenzo (variants: tengio or apo) bint'annos
    Romanian: am douazeci de ani
    Corsican and Gallurese: agghju vint'anni
    Sassarese: aggiu vent'anni
    Sicilian is also like that, and so on...
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  49. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu

    in Sardinian Logudorese we use also another variant beside Tenzo or Happo, we use also the verb Jùghere (to bring towards / to bring with you) as synonymous of to have

    Tenzo vint'annos
    Happo vint'annos
    Jutto vint'annos

    all of them could be translated as "I have 20 years"

    the pronounce of the J is highly variable in the Logudorese-Nuorese speaking area, where I live the J is pronounced like a Y, but if I go 25km south they pronounce it like in French, while going 25-30km to south-west they pronounce it like a soft G, in general nearly all north-western Sardinia pronounce it like a Y
  50. Floridsdorfer Member

    Transdanubien - Vienna - Austria
    Italian, Spanish, Sardinian (trilingual)
    Jùghere is also used in the transition variants between Logudorese and Campidanese (those variants from where they based the Common Sardinian Language...)
    These variants are more like Logudorese indeed, but they have Campidanese elements too. You will find jùghere almost until Oristano.
    But if you use it as a complete synonym of tènnere it could be a bit weird there. It generally means to carry or to take something away, so they never use it for the age.
    And also in this area you can hear both pronunciations, like a y (yard) or like a j (jingle).
    It depends basically on the position of the word in the sentence, like a lot of Sardinian pronunciation features...
    The first person is not juto (or jutto), like in Logudoro, but jutzo instead.

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