"How old are you?"


June 8, 2017



I had studied 'How old are you?' means 'nan sai desu ka?' .

I think 'お いくつ です か' is a little polite than 'なん さい です か'

June 8, 2017


I learn it by Nan sai〜 too but the other way look more polite due the お in the beginning. I think...

June 15, 2017


I think it is better to learn how to lead casual conversation first and then afterwards learning how to become more polite.

June 25, 2017


I disagree, but I suppose it depends on why you're studying Japanese. IMO, it's better to be too formal than rude.

If you're learning it to understand print/digital media, then learning the casual form first could be more useful. If you're learning to converse, the polite form covers both polite (meeting someone new) and casual interactions, though people may feel it's a bit odd to be so formal (though they'll understand if you tell them you're still learning).

June 25, 2017


Excessively formal has connotations in Japanese - namely it is extremely distal.

I am pretty that, as a foreigner, you can get away with -masu level formality and never need to know keigo. However, if keigo is all you know, you will probably unknowingly keep a formal distance between you and any Japanese person.

January 23, 2019


I believe he ment masu.

I'm not sure about you being pretty though.

February 19, 2019


Whst is "keigo"

June 12, 2019


It is also natural that you start communicating in a formal way with someone you don't know. Especialy in Japan where it sometimes takes years until you are acknowledged as an actual friend.

June 29, 2017


I know you're at about a million negative votes but I agree. I used to live there and desu masu form is was less common than the textbook will have you believe. And unless you work for a Japanese company you may never come into serious contact with keigo.

September 16, 2017


I agree with fahman, if you start off speaking too casual in Japan it's easy to offend someone.

A situation could get awkward fast that way...

July 2, 2017


Noo, in Japan politeness is very important and many people wouldn't like casual language. I can assure you. Also they would be far more impressed you speak politely.

August 21, 2017


I was taught in university courses that learning formal uses of speech was best since non-native speakers may be in situations where misunderstandings may arise.

June 26, 2018


This is true but it depends on the situation; if you work for an important company or something you should definitely learn polite conversation first... but a regular person can learn casual conversation first and be just fine, which is what I did! Anyways not many people use keigo or anything nowadays

November 21, 2018


I aggree with Mikkel. Polite speech is much more complicated and seemingly nonsensical while learning. Also, Japanese people won't be offended if a foreigner with basic Japanese skills address them in a casual way.

January 18, 2018


I actually agree, also because later on you can't advance in grammar without knowing informal speech, even when you're talking formal. Also when you're a gaijin, I found Japanese are more lenient in their politeness hierarchy.

December 18, 2018


But do want to rely on leniency or show some respect?

February 19, 2019


What about 'お さいは 何 です か?' Similar to when asking someone's name 'お 名前 は 何 です か?'

November 13, 2017


歳/才(さい)is used as a counter for age and not really used that way alone. "Age" alone would be 年齢(ねんれい). Though I'm not sure, if it can be used like お名前 in this case.

November 17, 2017


You can ask としはいくつですか. You write thisとし with 歳. That kanji is readとし when it's alone andさい when it's got company, like 何歳(なんさい), where it is a counter for age years. So don't try to use it alone or you may be misunderstood. さい by itself (with different kanji) means also a rhino or dice.

October 8, 2018


I think not. It's usually "何さいですか". I've never heard anyone use "おさい".

February 22, 2018


From what I have seen, 「おいくつですか。」 is used exclusively when conversing with small children (full stops are more formal than question marks in Japanese). According to the Japanese Stack Exchange, 「お歳をお聞きしてもいいですか。」 is the most appropriate way to ask a stranger their age, but females merit more caution because it is considered impolite to ask them their age. Check this link for more information: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2749/polite-way-to-ask-how-old-are-you-%E4%BD%95%E6%AD%B3-%E3%81%84%E3%81%8F%E3%81%A4-%E5%B9%B4%E9%BD%A2-%E3%81%94%E5%B9%B4

February 23, 2018


I also have Nan Sai desu ka in my textbooks.

I have different textbooks, I think most use Nan Sai desu ka

February 19, 2019


so desu ka. I will use お いくつ です か now that I have learned that it is more polite than なん さい です か. Thank you for your valuable input! @sora_Japan

September 9, 2019


How about おさいは何ですか?

November 13, 2017


maybe it implies "how many [years] are you?". It is a common expression in Greek, maybe its the same for Japanese.

June 10, 2017



June 10, 2017


Excuse me, in this case, whats is the exact meaning of いつく

June 28, 2017


"How many things"

As in: 一つあります。 means "There's one thing."

いくつありますか。 asks "How many things are there?"

June 29, 2017


What about nan sai desu ka?

June 8, 2017


なん さい です か is same お いくつ です か

June 10, 2017


What does the お mean here?

June 12, 2017


Yes it's an honorific prefix. Many nouns can be made more polite this way

June 14, 2017


Making it more polite I think

June 12, 2017



June 30, 2017


I wrote "o Ikutsu desu" and Duo said it was correct. Is the "ka" particle not necessary in order to ask a question?

June 28, 2017


Grammatically it's necessary, and I think DuoLingo shouldn't have accepted it.

But like it's said before: You can imply a question by the tone of your voice.

June 29, 2017


Similar to the way you can imply a question in English by the tone of your voice

June 28, 2017


I learned this phrase as 'nan sai desu ka?'

June 28, 2017


yes, that's a better way to say it

November 21, 2018


Ok, I just asked my Japanese husband about this! Here is his answer. いくつ is more general, directly meaning "how many?" It is also more childish. The equivalent in English is when a very young child holds up 3 fingers and says, "I'm this many!" 何さいですか is specifically asking about age while いくつ can be asking about the quantity of anything. Also, if you ask an adult, [いくつですか] they are going to look at you a little weird for using baby talk at them. 何さいですか is acceptable for all ages and is neutral on the politeness scale. おいくつですか is acceptable for adults and therefore polite, but you have to use the お。 TLDR: 何さいですか is a safer bet but おいくつですか is acceptable too.

July 6, 2019


What does いくつ means? Is it really " how old"? And what is the function of that お?

August 2, 2017


いくつ means "how many", that it refers to years is implied by context. お is a politeness marker, which shows that you are asking about the person you are talking with.

November 10, 2017


I had a Japanese teacher who mentioned that being too formal can sometimes make you sound condescending or closed off in some situations. So I'm assuming this phrase would best be used with someone who is your superior by a LOT, and not people who are on the same level as you.

November 9, 2017


"How many are you?" I like japanese

November 23, 2017


in russian it would sound like '[to you] [how many]' in the most casual form (and '[how many] [to you] years' in the polite form) literal 'how old are you' would sound incredibly rude like... you're either calling someone old or questioning whether they're an adult and just... bad form

October 8, 2018


Lol I chose いくつ in the options randomly because I didn't remember the answer and just wanted to see what it was, and got it right. I should try the lottery.

January 29, 2019


Literally all i put was いくつ .... I dont know whats what anymore

September 3, 2017


I've heard in anime the rude children ask this, but adding more words makes it more polite.

September 30, 2017


です and か are both used for formal speech, but don't need to be used in informal speech. Not only that, but you can imply a question via tone of voice. Its possible that Duolingo interpreted your answer as いくつ? and accepted it as correct.

August 14, 2019


And how i answer this ?

July 5, 2017


I think it should be ok to answer: "age" sai desu. I could be wrong, if someone could confirm that would be great.

November 18, 2018


Yes, it's the same as answering 何歳ですか. So something like 32歳です.

January 30, 2019


I always hear "des" and "des ka." Are those honorifics?

September 22, 2017


Desu is like the verb to be and ka is used at the end to make a normal sentence a question sentence. They can be omitted in casual conversations, i guess.

October 21, 2017



December 5, 2017


I forgot to add the か. How come it was still right?

March 12, 2018


intonation is king and you CAN ask a question using a statement form in English too it would be marked incorrect for an English learner tho so idk

October 8, 2018


How to write old in Japanese

April 15, 2018


you don't need to call someone old to ask their age

October 8, 2018


This is a difficult question and requires many answers. If you're referring to things and stuff, you use 古い(ふるい)but sometimes it has a bad feeling to it (used or outdated) and you can never use it to people without sounding rude. I think you can comment on someone's music taste with this, though.

If you talk about olden times, old customs for example, you would use 昔の(むかしの) unless you still use them which would make them 昔(むかし)ながらの and more likeable, make you say "i'd like to try that too!" or feel nostalgic.

The old people can be referred to as お年寄り and "I/we have aged" = I'm/we're old would be としをとった. If you want to say that someone is older than you, you'd say 年上(としうえ) of that person. This is a neutral word because it doesn't have to be more than one year to use it but it can be much more (and if you want to emphasize it, you can say だいぶとしうえの人. If you want to say "he's old", I think you'd say おじさんです or おじいさんです depending on how old he is (first one means he could be your uncle and second one he could be your grandfather). The same would be used for women, but the words would be おばさん (aunt) and おばあさん (granny). It may be that as for people "who could be your uncle", おっさん would be more common than おじさん, at least when teenage boys or men are speaking. This list may not be conclusive, I might've forgotten something.

October 8, 2018


Is it necessary ot put the question mark at the end of a sentence that already has the か particle?

April 30, 2018


No, it's not necessary.

January 30, 2019


What does いくつ means?

July 16, 2018


'how many' i think

October 8, 2018


can someone explain the sentence order of this?

September 1, 2018


In college textbooks "nan sai desuka" is exclusively used

May 4, 2019


Is the お actually necessary, besides making it less rude?

August 5, 2019
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