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Expressing "age difference" with "da and xiao"

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如果你有兄弟姐妹,中国人常常会问你"他(她)比你小几岁" or "他(她)比你大几岁 "。注意,这里一定不能不用"年轻"或者"老"。

Structure

A + 比 + B + 大 / 小 + Number + 岁

Note that 岁 is used here, instead of 年, to mean "year old."

Examples

  • 我 姐姐 Wǒ jiějie liǎng suì.My sister is two years older than me.
  • 你 哥哥 nǐ gēge xiǎosuì? How much younger are you than your elder brother?
  • 他 女朋友 Tā nǚpéngyou shí suì.His girlfriend is 10 years older than him.
  • 我 老板 很 年轻,只 三 四 Wǒ lǎobǎn hěn niánqīng, zhǐ sān sì suì.My boss is very young. He is only three or four years older than me.

If you just wonder which is elder or younger, these example sentences will be helpful:

  • 你俩 谁 Nǐ liǎ shéi  ?Who is elder between you two?
  • 你 爸爸 和 你 妈妈 谁 Nǐ bàba hé nǐ māma shéi ?Who is the elder one, your dad or your mom?
  • 你们 五 个 人 里 谁 最 Nǐmen wǔ gè rén lǐ shéi zuì xiǎo?Who is the youngest among the five of you?

But if you're talking about being the same age, use this structure instead.

A + 和 / 跟 + B + 一样 / 差不多 + 大

A few examples:

  • 他 女朋友 他 女儿 一样 Tā nǚpéngyou tā nǚ'ér yīyàng .His girlfriend is about the same age with his daughter.
  • 我 爸爸 妈妈 差不多 Wǒ bàba māma chàbuduō .My dad is about the same age with my mom.

Multiple Ways of Asking about Age

询问孩子、朋友、老人的年龄的说法,在汉语里也有一定的讲究。譬如,对孩子(10岁以下)、同龄人、较为年长的人,都有专门的问法。对女性,要看年龄。中年女性一般不问。

A few examples:

  • 小朋友 ,你 几岁 Xiǎopéngyou, nǐ jǐ suì le?Kid, how old are you?
  • 大妈 ,您 多大 年纪 Dàmā, nín duō dà niánjì le?Old lady, how old are you?
  • 爷爷 ,您 多大 岁数 Yéye, nín duō dà suìshu le?Old man, how old are you?
  • 90 ,你 哪 年 shì jiǔ líng de, nǐ shì nǎ nián de?I was born in 1990. Which year were you born?

See also

Sources and further reading

Books