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Should I use 'has' or 'is'?

  1. My son has 21 years old.
  2. My son is 21 years old.
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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Feb 4 '14 at 14:08

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In Spanish, you would say, "Mi hijo tienes viente-cinco aÑos," which translated literally means "My son has 25 years," but which is understood to mean "My son is 25 years old." – rhetorician Feb 4 '14 at 19:08
In French it is the same way. They have years, instead of being years old. – BobRodes Feb 4 '14 at 20:05
No, in Spanish you would say, "Mi hijo tiene veinticinco años. – user26732 Feb 4 '14 at 20:06
up vote 7 down vote accepted

To describe someone's age, height, weight, size, shape, and so on, we use the verb to be.

So you should use is in your question, not has:

My son is 21 years old.

You can think of this "21 years old" as an adjective phrase. Adjectives are words we use to describe things. You can also think of this X years old phrase the same way as old when you say "He is old." For example,

That man is very old. He is a professional cyclist!
How old is he?
He's 102 years old!

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+1 BUT He's a hundred-and-two-year-old man, singular year. OP should not ask Why, there's no reason, it just is. – StoneyB Feb 4 '14 at 18:46
@StoneyB Actually, there is a semi-consistent rule in English that when a noun (such as "year") is used in a modifier before a noun, it should be singular. – andybalholm Feb 4 '14 at 23:30
@andybalholm Quite so. But the rule is as far as I know completely unmotivated and arbitrary. – StoneyB Feb 4 '14 at 23:34

To express age, we use the verb to be, so

Your son is 21 years old.

Other examples:

How old are you?

I am 39.

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