I'm looking for a general way in Japanese to express the following:

X is Y years old.

I know for human age we use 〜歳 and I have seen other expressions for buildings and trees (don't remember them off hand).

At least speaking about inanimate objects, is there a generic way to express age? Here is my guess (probably awkward):

This car is 20 years old.


It is not nearly as simple as in English or many other languages.

You could say:

「X + は + Y + 年前{ねんまえ}のものである。」

「X + は + Y + 年前からある。」

「X + は + Y + 年前できた。」 ←「できた」 here can be replaced by a verb in the passsive voice form such as 「作{つく}られた」,「建{た}てられた」, etc.

For buildings and trees, however, we have common set expressions.

Buildings: 「このビルは築{ちく}Y年である。」

Trees: 「あの木は樹齢{じゅれい}Y年です。」

For food and liquor items where aging is an important part of their values, we often use the expression 「Y年もの」. Unless used sarcastically, that expression generally carries a positive connotation with it. We say:

「30年もののワイン」、「これは4年もののミソです。」, etc.

Finally, we would never say:

「この車は20年古い。」 to mean "This car is 20 years old."

The only times when we use 「古い」 is when we say "A is Y years older than B." and emphasize that Y is a large number - "A is much older than B". The 「も」 is for emphasis and it is often used in combination with 「より」.  You can say:


  • Thanks for the detailed answer. Regarding も, since I have seen the expression 5年も前, I thought "5年も古い" (just to emphasize it was a long time ago) would also be acceptable, but from what you are saying it isn't.
    – Locksleyu
    Jan 15 '17 at 6:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.