How old are you? or What is your age?

Which is more common or used more and also the correct way of asking?

Original question closed on ELU

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    Though as a cultural note, asking this of anyone other than a child (or by a doctor &c) might well get an answer along the lines of "None of your effing business!" It's quite rude. – jamesqf Apr 26 '15 at 18:05
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    Possible duplicate of what age are you – Quidam May 10 '17 at 15:56

In any spoken English How old are you is far, far more natural than what's your age. So, if you don't want people to notice your stilted English, it is far better to use How old are you?.

It might also be helpful to know that we don't usually use the words years old in the reply. We just state the number. And it's actually ungrammatical to say just years:

  • Thirty.
  • I'm 30.
  • *I'm thirty years. (ungrammatical)
  • ?I'm 30 years old. (Not usually used by adults)

There may be special circumstances when someone might say What's your age?, but the normal question is How old are you?. The answer is "(X)", not "(X) years", or even "(X) years old" - unless you are five!

  • I completely agree that shorter versions are more common but I wouldn't say that "I'm 30 years old" is uncommon for adults, particularly in situations where a more formal or complete answer is appropriate. – Catija Apr 26 '15 at 16:28
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    If I were at an interview and was asked how old I am, I'd refuse to answer because it's illegal in the US to ask someone their age in a job interview situation. Honestly, though... sometimes you just want to draw it out. If you want to say something like "It's better for learners to stick to just the number", that's one thing, but blanket saying that adults don't say "I'm 33 years old" is just incorrect. – Catija Apr 26 '15 at 16:34
  • @Catija I said that we don't usually use the "years old" bit, that's all. EDIT Ok, the last sentence sounds a bit stronger that that, granted. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 26 '15 at 17:50

In many parts of Ireland, notably in the West, people commonly ask "What age are you?". Asking certain people "How old are you?" may be considered to have somewhat negative connotations as the word "old" is synonymous with "elderly".

  • So What age are you? is more correct than What is your age?? – baptx May 30 at 19:24

"How old are you? is absolutely more common. "What is your age?" sounds a bit weird but it is still being used in some countries.

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