This is probably a simple question but something I've seemingly never considered while studying Japanese, but how would one compare ages of people in Japanese?

For example if I wanted to say "I'm two years older than my girlfriend" would be something along the lines of "僕は彼女より二年年をとった" Although my interpretation of this makes it seem unnatural, along the lines of "I've aged two more years than my girlfriend". If someone can clarify I would greatly appreciate it.



2 Answers 2


You would use [年上]{とし・うえ} for older and [年下]{とし・した} for younger.

  • 僕は彼女より2歳年上だ。 → I'm two years older than my girlfriend.
  • 妹は私より5歳年下です。 → My sister is five years younger than I.

You can also use them by themselves.

  • 花子さんには年下の[旦那]{だん・な}さんがいる。 → Hanako has a younger husband.
  • 翔平は兄弟の中で一番年上だ。 → Shōhei is the oldest of his siblings.
  • Exactly the kind of explanation I was looking for, thank you!
    – mattb
    Aug 9, 2015 at 20:57
  • It's actually "than me" in English, not "than I". This is known as hypercorrection.
    – user22333
    May 30, 2017 at 14:26
  • @nyuszika7h: I believe you're hypercorrecting. The omission is ...older than I (am old).
    – istrasci
    May 30, 2017 at 15:27
  • For those interested in the battle between which is correct English, ref. quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/than-i-versus-than-me. Clearly, I'm a "conjugtionist" according to this article.
    – istrasci
    May 30, 2017 at 16:40
  • @itrasci Nobody would say "older than I am old", though. That sounds very formal/ancient. "Older than I am", sure. But anyway, in "older than me", "me" is the object and I'd say that's definitely not wrong, and neither is "older than I am". So apparently there's no agreement on "older than I", but it doesn't really make sense to me as that's simply randomly "am" for seemingly no reason, it doesn't make any sense unless you "imagine" the "am" there.
    – user22333
    Jun 3, 2017 at 8:24

In addition to istrasci's answer, a version that is often used in introductions and the like is xxつ[上]{うえ}の[person] and xxつ[下]{した}の[person]

5つ下の妹。 Younger sister five years younger

2つ上の彼女 Girlfriend two years older

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