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Lesson 14: How old are you?

You could ask a kid "Ni ji sui le?" For an adult, you can say "Ni duo da le" and "Nin duo da le?" is a courteous way of asking an elderly or senior person's age.

Y: Perfect Chinese your way, in only five minutes a day. Welcome to Chinese Studio. I'm Yajie.

C: Hi, everyone, I'm Cam. Zaoshang hao, yajie.

Y: Today we'll learn how to ask one's age in Chinese. First let's check our key words of the day!

Key words in Chinese characters and Pin Yin
Today we'll continue with the usages of the numbers. "Ni ji sui le?", "Nin duo da le?" All in today's Chinese Studio.

C: In the West, we don't usually ask a person's age. Especially a girl. It is usually considered private!

Y: In China you can ask a person's age. And there are different ways of asking. For example, if you saw a lovely kid, and you were wondering how old she or he was, you could say ni ji sui le?

C: Ni ji sui le?

Y: Ni, we've learnt that before, right? It means you. Remember?The pronunciation of is similar to the English word knee. "ni", the third tone.

C: yes. Ni.

Y: ji, means how many. And "sui" means age.

C: Ji sui.

Y: Right. Now let me explain the usage of :"le". Here "sui", a noun, plus the Chinese character "le". It has a similar meaning to that of a verb, indicating the completion of an action. For example,"wo ba sui le" means that I've already grown up to eight years old.

Y: If you want to know the age of somebody around your age or a peer, you can ask this way: Ni duo da le?

C: Ni duo da le?

Y: here means how many? together means how old.

C:ni duo da le?

Y: Sometimes when answering the question of how old they are? people would just say "wo" plus the number of your age. For example, if you were twenty years old, you could say "Wo ewr shi le"

Y: Right. One more thing.There is a more courteous way of asking an elderly or senior person's age. You can say ni duo da le?

C: Ni duo da le? We've learned nin. It's the polite form of "ni, right?

Y: Exactly. Ni duo da le? There is another way of asking a senior citizen's age. You can say Nin gao shou? means high, and shou means age. Together gao shou means your venerable age. Nin gao shou?

C: Nin gao shou? It's a little bit difficult for me to say.

Y: You can keep practicing.This is a polite thing to say to elderly people.It shows respect.

Key words reminder
You could ask a kid "Ni ji sui le?" For an adult, you can say "Ni duo da le?"And"Nin duo da le?" is a courteous way of asking an elderly or senior person's age. Also when asking an old person's age, you can say "nin gao shou?" "gao" means high, and "shou" means age.Together"gao shou"means your venerable age.

Cam: Yajie, Ni duo da le?

Y: Sorry, Cam. I forgot to tell you that now in China more and more people do not ask a lady's age. So it's a secret.

Cam: Ok. I see. I'll have to remember that!

Y: Well, class is over for this time. Don't forget you can win a gift by answering the question of the day in Chinese: what's the polite form of asking a senior citizen's age?