# How can we ask this question in an idiomatic way: "A what age student stole it?"

Imagine a student got the wifi password of the school.

Can you specifically ask about the age of the student like this:

"A what age student stole the school's wi-fi password?"

OR

"What age student stole the school's wifi password?"

Although they do not sound idiomatic, I am not quite sure, maybe they can be used.

If yes, should it be "A what age student...." OR "What age student ...."

• The construction of your sentences suggests to me that perhaps you are not asking about the literal age of the student (how old they are from birth) but rather about what year / form / class they are in the school. So if, for example, the answer was something like "A junior / a third year student / a second form student stole the password", then the question might be something like 'What class was the student in who stole the password"? (rather than "How old was the student?") Can you clarify what information the questioner is actually seeking?
– Kirt
Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 6:33
• @Kirt, Thanks for the answer. To clarify the question, Imagine that a friend told you about an interesting event like "An 50 year old man graduated from our university when I was a student in Paris." And when you want to tell about this interesting thing to someone else, you sometime notice that you can not remember the exact age of the person(was he 60 or 50 or 65). So you want to ask your friend to remind you of the man's age, not the repeat the whole event all over, as you need only the age. In such a case, you might need a structure like: "A what age man graduated from your university? Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 8:55
• @Kirt, It should be such a question that it should specifically bring you this as an answer, nothing more, nothing less. For example: Question: .......................................... Answer:"A 55 year old man." Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 8:56
• The same applies as in Katy's answer. "How old was that man who graduated?" or "What age was that man...?" (The version "What age are you?" is much more common in Irish English, I think because it reflects the way it is said in the Irish language.) Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 9:37
• Italics would help: "A what age student stole it?" Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 16:30

Both your options are technically usable, but are very awkward and non-idiomatic. In my opinion, the second is slightly better than the first, but I wouldn't choose to use either one.

A more natural way to ask this would be:

"What age was the student who stole the school's wifi password?"

or

"How old was the student who stole the school's wifi password?"

• +1. One note: in my experience the “What age…” construction is quite usual in Irish English, but “How old…” is much more common in most other varieties of English, at least in the British, American, and Australian English I’m familiar with.
– PLL
Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 10:29
• You may think the OP's sentences are "technically usable", but I would say that they are not English. Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 16:30
• @PLL "A what-aged student?" (where "what-aged" is an adjectival phrase, emphasis on the 'what') is fairly common in the British English I'm familiar with. Usually as a rhetorical expression of surprise, though. Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 18:02
• @wizzwizz4 As in "A what-aged student just shot his teacher?" Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 18:10
• @Barmar Yes. (Reference, for future readers.) Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 18:13

The question could have begun with the preposition, at.

At what age (when) can a young person learn to drive?

At what age did Anna learn to drive?

At what age (when) can I leave school?

At what age did you leave school?

At what age did the student steal the wifi password?

Alternatively use the structure: What age + be:

1. What age is he?
What ages are tweens?

2. What age was Anna when she learnt to drive?