Beginner 1> Lesson 15
Lesson 15. How to say, “I am ( ) years old”
In this lesson, you will learn how to say “I’m _ years old” in Korean. Let’s start!
나이 means “age” in Korean. But we don’t use this specific word when telling our age. Instead, we use a counter “살” which is used for counting age.
Let’s look at the pattern you will use when telling your age:
저는 (your age) 살이에요. (존댓말 – polite Korean)
나는 (your age) 살이야. (반말 – casual Korean)
살 = a measure word (or counter) for your years of age.
In Korean, there are two types of numbers: Sino Korean and Native(=Pure) Korean numbers. In different situations, we use different numbers, but when it comes to age – Native Korean numbers are used.
Ex. 저는 19 (열 아홉) 살이에요.
Sino Korean 19 = 십구
Native Korean 19 = 열 아홉
Ex. 나는 31 (서른 한) 살이야.
Just like we learned in the previous counter lesson, when you use Native Korean numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 with measure words, they change their form to:
1 하나 > 한
2 둘 > 두
3 셋 > 세
4 넷 > 네
Ex. 31 = 서른 하나, but when combined with a measure word, it becomes > 서른 한 살
서른 한 개 (* 개 is a measure word for the number of things)
서른 한 명 (* 명 is a measure word for the number of people)
Let’s look at more examples:
Ex. I’m 22 years old. – 저는 스물 두 (not 둘) 살이에요.
Ex. I’m 3 years old. – 저는 세살이에요. (not 저는 셋살이에요)
Ex. I’m 34 years old. – 저는 서른 네살이에요. (not 저는 서른 넷살이에요)
The rest of the numbers (다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉) don’t change their form when combined with measure words.
Ex. 나는 다섯 살이야. – I’m 5 years old.
Ex. 저는 열 여섯 살이에요. – I’m 16 years old.
Ex. 저는 서른 여덟 살이에요. – I’m 38 years old.
Ex. 저는 마흔 아홉 살이에요. – I’m 49 years old.
There’s one more number that changes its form – 스물 (20).
Let’s look at how it changes when combined with measure words:
But other 10-unit numbers such as 열(10), 서른(30), 마흔(40) etc., stay the same.
That was the first way to say your age in Korean.
You can also use the second way which is popular among Koreans.
So, instead of saying your age, you can say your birth year. Note that we use Sino-Korean numbers with years.
Ex. 1995 > 저는 1995 (천구백구십오) 년생이에요. – I was born in 1995.
년 = year indicator / 생(生) = born/birth
Or, you don’t always have to say the full year. You can only use the last two numbers.
Ex. 1982 > 저는 82(팔십이) 년생이에요. – I was born in 1982.
Ex. 1975 > 저는 75(칠십오) 년생이에요. – I was born in 1975.
Ex. 2000 >저는 00 (공공)년생이에요. Or 저는 2000 (이천) 년생이에요. – I was born in 2000.
Ex. 2004 > 저는 04 (공사)년생이에요. – I was born in 2004.
If you want to ask a person how old they are, the most casual way would be :
몇 살 이세요? / 몇 살이에요?
몇 = how many
살= years of age
You can use a 반말 form to ask a younger person their age:
몇 살이야? (몇 is a question word for “how many,” so it would literally mean “How many years old are you?”)
There are also more polite ways to ask someone’s age :
나이가 어떻게 되세요?
= How old are you?
If you ask a person who is way older than you, you can replace “나이” with “연세가”.
연세가 어떻게 되세요?
연세 = age (but with more respect to a person)
Noun이/가 어떻게 되세요 is a polite way to ask what person’s noun (name, gender, age, job etc) is.
You can check this page for more explanation about this pattern “noun 이/가 어떻게 되세요?”
So now you can say your age in Korean and ask other people how old they are.
Once again, don’t forget about a few rules when 1, 2, 3, 4, and 20 are combined with counters.
Also, make sure to pay attention to the level of politeness when asking a person’s age.
That’s it for the lesson!