How old are you?

Introduction

Sometimes when we are talking in a different language we can’t do a direct translation. In English, when we talk about the age of someone or something we use a different structure to when we talk about age in Spanish.

Conversation

Listen to the following short conversation where Catherine and Emily discuss their age.

Listen to the audio and read the transcript.

Emily: How old are you?

Catherine: I am twenty-nine years old. How old are you?

Emily: I am twenty-seven years old.


Analysis

How old are you?

Emily: How old are you?

Catherine: I am twenty-nine years old. How old are you?

Emily: I am twenty-seven years old.

In Spanish, we would say, “Tengo veinte-nueve años.” The direct translation of this would be, ‘I have twenty-nine years’. However, we don’t speak like that in English. Instead, we use the verb ‘to be’.

PronounTo Be (Simple Present Tense)
Iam
Youare
He / She / Itis
Weare
Theyare

Remember, for the question ‘How old are you?’ we use the verb ‘to be’, therefore we don’t need to use the word ‘do’. We often use the word ‘do’ in a question when we are not using the verb ‘to be’.

Word order

When we ask a question using the verb ‘to be’, the verb comes before the pronoun.

How you are? – Incorrect

How are you? – Correct

How old you are? – Incorrect

How old are you? – Correct

An example in the 3rd person

Emily: This is my dog. His name is Blackie.

Catherine: How old is he?

Emily: He is three years old.

Task

Write a brief conversation where two people introduce themselves and compare their ages.


    Reflection

    It’s likely that you will make mistakes when talking about the age of people or things. This is normal because a direct translation doesn’t work. With time, you will become accustomed to saying your age using the verb ‘to be’.