While asking “How old are you?” may not be appropriate in some cultures, it’s important to know how to do it (and when it’s allowed). Let’s talk about how to broach this delicate subject. You can also learn more about Russian grammar and cultural peculiarities with one of our tutors.
Is It Appropriate to Ask Someone Their Age in Russia?
Yes, it is, but there is an exception: It’s considered rude to ask an older woman her age. You can ask a young woman her age, and she probably won’t be offended. The question is completely acceptable in other situations, like during job interviews, when meeting new people, and so on.
How to Ask “How Old Are You?”
Asking about someone’s age depends on the person you ask. If it’s your friend and you address the person as “ты” (ty), you say, “Сколько тебе лет?” (Skol’ko tebe let?).
When you ask a person you don’t know or a person who is older, you say, “Сколько Вам лет?” (Skol’ko Vam let?).
In fact, you can add personal pronouns “ему” (emu – he) and “ей” (ei – she) in the dative case instead of “тебе” (tebe) and “Вам” (Vam). The dative case shows the indirect object of a word; in other words, we use it to mark the noun to which something is given. Look at the examples below:
Сколько ей лет? (Skol’ko ei let?)
How old is she?
Сколько ему лет? (Skol’lo emu let?)
How old is he?
When you are unsure of someone’s age or you don’t hear their answer correctly, you can say:
Тебе тридцать лет? (Tebe tritsat’ let?)
Are you 30?
How to Answer the Question “How Old Are You?”
When answering this question, simply add your age into the pattern below.
Мне 25 лет. (Mne dvadtsat’ pyat’ let).
Мне сорок лет. (Mne sorok let).
You can also add personal pronouns “ему” (emu – he) and “ей” (ei – she) in the dative case instead of “мне” (mne – me):
Ему десять лет. (Emu desyat’ let).
He is 10.
Ей пять лет. (Ei pyat’ let).
She is five.
Practice asking and answering the question “How old are you” in Russian, but remember to avoid asking women about their age! To improve your pronunciation, work with a tutor.