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I know this was from a long time ago, but the original poster mean "how many years do you have LEFT." In English we never ask someone "how many years do you have" in terms of the past. It's always "how long have you..." Saying "how many years/days/months do you have" implies we're asking how many more years they're going to do something (school, jail time, until they die of a disease...). There's the "left" there that we drop. That question refers to the future, never the past.
Hi Paulo, sub-question: is this phrasing -- quando anos você tem? -- the natural way Brazilians ask about age, the way "How old are you?" is the natural American way?
Because asking how many years you have might be confusing in English. "Have left on this Earth?" Might be my response if you ask that to me in English (and don't have a strong foreign accent. If you ask that in Portuguese, it's understood as asking your age. Our default questions for age don't ask how many years you have but what age you are, so even the verb is different.
Not really. While it is a literal translation, it will probably draw the question "for what?" for native English speakers. They are asking for a person's age which is a property (like height, as in "what is your height?") in English while in Portuguese (and other languages) you are asking how many years in a person's life they currently have. So if you don't want to cause confusion you ask for the person's age, i.e. " How old are you?" in English, and how many years a person has in languages where that is appropriate, i.e. "Quantos anos você tem?" in Portuguese. This is one of many cases where a literal translation would probably cause more confusion rather than just saying what the person means.
This is more about usage than grammar. In English, age is something that you are, while in Portuguese and in Spanish, age is something you have. Think of the years as something you carry around with you. "How many years do you have?" is correct grammatically but is improper usage. You may hear it in poetry but not in spoken language.
In English, it is correct, though not necessarily polite, to ask "How old are you." In Spanish, it would be incorrect and very rude to ask, "¿Cuán viejo eres?"
That's what Coayuco was saying. It's about common usage. In English it would be strange (and may be confusing) to hear "how many years do you have?" How many years do I have for what? But "how old are you?" is immediately understood here. It's reverse in Spanish and Portuguese. Which is why a literal translation probably would be incorrect to use for this.
The Spanish sentence is grammatically correct, but a native speaker is not going to use it, ever. On the other side, a native speaker may use "How many years do you have" in other context, but not to ask someone his/her age. Besides, if you could ask that way, this would mean that you could answer "I have 21 years". And that answer referring to age is incorrect English.
They shouldn't accept it, but there is a case where using "have" for age can be correct in English (even though context has to be established first, so I'd still count it wrong as an out of context sentence). It's kind of poetic, but I've actually heard people say this out loud to each other: "How many years do you have upon this Earth?" "I have 21. How many years do you have?" "35"... Now, in this scenario, one person was an actor (as a profession, we weren't at a play at the time or anything) and we were playing a live-action game where we were all vampires, werewolves, or whatever the game called for. Either way, they did say this to each other in that context and understood each other without missing a beat.
That being said, if given no context, it should be counted wrong if the answer to this exercise is "How many years do you have?" when asking for age, because if you ask that to a random person on the street, they wouldn't know what you were talking about for the most part. If you added the "on this Earth" or something similar, they might, but most people would confuse it with "how many years do you have left on this Earth" even if you did that. It's not the norm and would take effort to clarify what you were talking about rather than just saying "how old are you?" (which unless you are a kid or new to English, needs no explination), therefore, in the context of this site, your answer should be marked incorrect.
An interesting take... though you share a valid use of the phrase, you say that without further context, a poetical answer should get marked wrong. My contention is the reverse: unless there is good reason for marking an answer wrong, the lack of context should give the learner the benefit of the doubt, as Duo does in other exercises.
I didn't mean that poetically should be counted wrong, except in a situation of no context. It was the fact that there's no context with the sentence that makes it no default. If someone on the street gets asks "how many years do you have?" poetically or not, they will be confused unless they are prepped mentally (I suppose asking in a certain way might give away the meaning, but in text you have no real chance of dramatic delivery and only the words). Go. Ask someone with no preparation. Do they give their age? Now ask how old they are? In Brazil, if you ask how many years someone has, they know. They give their age much like asking for age is done here which is why I would count it incorrect. If people have to ask for more to clarify, then maybe something is off in the translation or requires more than the literal translation. Sure duo might count the literal correct, but I'm serious. Ask a random person that on the street and see if they realize what you're saying with no explanation. Ask the same number of people how old they are and report your findings. I tried it once and found only confused people when asking how many years they had. Maybe because they spoke no other language. Not sure. Asking age got understanding (granted random people won't aways just give their age, but they appeared to understand what I was asking when they didn't).