I think the sentences:





are all sentences that ask "How old are you?"

How are they different?

What form is most polite?

  • 1
    お年 should probably be お歳 :) Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 4:26
  • 1
    One more way: "なんぼ?"
    – Axioplase
    Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


I will probably go with "お歳をお聞きしてもいいですか?" if I had to ask the age of some stranger or customer etc. If the other person is a female, I might throw in "大変申し訳ありませんが" before the question. It is considered impolite to ask a female her age in Japan. If you have to ask for whatever reason, you are expected to take extra care.

If you are asking an acquaintance, "何歳ですか?" or "何歳でいらっしゃるんですか?" will be more natural. You should use 何歳でいらっしゃるんですか if you think the other person is senior than you. おいくつですか? おいくつでいらっしゃるんですか is also appropriate in this situation.

年齢 is not commonly used to form questions, perhaps because it is a bit formal or even a bit bureaucratic. A police officer or something could ask 年齢を教えてもらえますか? ご年齢は? and so on. It is frequently used in formal situations, as in 国民の平均年齢は or 年齢が高い層の平均貯蓄額はX万円だった etc.

Finally, when you address an young child, you can say なんさい? or いくつ?.

  • +1 Very nice concrete examples. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 15:02


いくつ is not normally spelled with kanji. Also, this is actually asking, ‘How many?’ To ask for someone's age, you should use the honorific form: いくつですか。 This is the standard way.


This is direct, but still in the polite form.


This is direct and also informal. I can't imagine many situations where this would be appropriate. Maybe if you're asking a child what their age is.


I can't say I've ever seen this before...

  • 1
    幾つ is 'how many', not 'how much'. The latter is 幾ら or いくら. Although makes difference in politeness, it does not make difference in grammaticality. It is just that since the rest is in polite form (です), it is strange not to have the .
    – user458
    Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 14:06
  • 3
    "Maybe if you're asking a child what their age is." Side note: For children, it's common to ask for a school grade instead of age, so 「何年生?」 can work for 「何歳?」. (But then you have to mentally convert from the 6-3-3 grading system to actual age, of course. :) Commented Aug 19, 2011 at 15:53
  • 1
    @Derek Are there repeats in the Japanese school system too?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 5:57
  • 「何歳ですか」 does not sound polite at all. In fact, native speakers rarely say it. It is the J-learners who say it constantly.
    – user4032
    Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 1:29
  • 2
    @非回答者 何歳?/何歳ですか。is the only way school children have ever asked me my age. It also seems to be the most common way I've been asked by people in their teens and 20s. After that, おいくつですか seems to become the default. That's been my experience, at least. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 4:13

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