Is the question of "what age are you" idiomatic,common or does it sound naturally in the meaning of "how old are you"

Can we say this structure could be used for materials as "how age is it"?

  • For people, you want to ask "How old are you?", with the appropriate cultural sensitivities (e.g. here in the West, you do not ask that of a woman, particularly a not-young woman). For objects, you can ask "How old is it?".
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 26, 2014 at 22:36
  • @ Dan Bron thank you for answer.As you know , people say "how old are you " in order to learn somebody else's age when situation is appropriate..my question is more about , when I say " how age are you " is it generally acceptable and understandable ? does it sound irritating or natural? ( assume fresher college guys ask each other)
    – Mrt
    Nov 26, 2014 at 22:55
  • I suppose you could say to a person "What (not how) age are you?" or, of an object, "What age is it?", but no one actually does. Not even fresh college guys.
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 26, 2014 at 23:01
  • 1
    Understood. In the US, we call first-year college students freshmen, all one word:
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 26, 2014 at 23:13
  • 1
    Asking "What age are you?" might attract answers like "stone age" :) . It depends on the context in which the question is asked.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 20, 2017 at 14:34

4 Answers 4


Is the question of "what age are you" idiomatic,common or does it sound naturally in the meaning of " how old are you "

Can we say this structure could be used for materials as " how age is it "

"What age are you?" is definitely not idiomatic. Using it would mark you instantly as a non-native speaker. However, it makes logical sense and it would be understood.

"How age is it?" would be even worse. While most native speakers could likely figure out what this meant, it sounds simply wrong.

If you were asking a person about his or her age, you'd almost always say "How old are you?" or "What year were you born?" or "When were you born?" -- with the first one being by far the most common.

If you were asking about an object, you would usually say "How old is it?" But you might also say "When was it built?" (in reference to a building or structure) or "How long has it been here?" or "How many years has it been here?" or "How long has it been around?" -- again, the simple "How old is it?" would be most common.

  • 3
    Also, "What's your age?" and "What's the age of this building?" Jun 20, 2017 at 16:38
  • "What's your age?" is my choice also, if I want to avoid using "old".
    – virolino
    Feb 11, 2019 at 8:34
  • “what’s your age?” is not idiomatic. This would mark you clearly as a non-native speaker.
    – Jonah
    Feb 11, 2019 at 13:35

I echo my fellow Celt. In Ireland you would hear "What age are you?" for preference, because it is the standard Gaelic idiom ("Cén aois thú?). But in England, "What age are you?" would mark you as a non-native speaker. It is definitely, "How old are you?"


In Scotland, we say

What age are you?

probably more than

How old are you?

The former is much more natural for me to say.

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    Does it sound unnatural to hear someone say "How old are you?" If so, the latter is probably the safer one for an English-as-a-second-language student to learn. Jun 20, 2017 at 14:48

Yes my wife is N Irish and she and her whole family always say 'what age are you?'. Which is similar to the French quelle age as tu? (what age do you have?). As there is a lot of Irish and Scottish blood in the USA, I suspect it travelled over a few centuries ago.

What I found funny is that my wife swore blind that everyone in England used her expression and not 'How old are you?'

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