Expressing Age

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Numbers and Time  


The English word “year(s)” is expressed in Russian by two words – год (the ordinary world for “year”) and лет (genetive plural of лето = summer).

In Russian, the person whose age is being told is in the dative case. The same rule is applied to objects and things. The age is followed by a word for “year(s)”.

To express age the following rules must be known:

1) After оди́н whether by itself or in a compound numeral, use год for singular and plural forms:

Ему (dat.) оди́н год.
He is (lit: to him are...) one year old.

Мне (dat.) два́дцать оди́н год.
I am (lit: to me are...) twenty one years old.

Этим часам (dat.) девятьсо́т девяно́сто оди́н год.
This watch is (lit: to watch are...) nine hundred ninety one years old.

2) After два, три, четы́ре, or compound numerals ending with any of these, use го́да (gen. sing.):

Ей (dat.) два года.
She is (lit: to her are...) two years old.

Мое́й тёте (dat.) три́дцать три года.
My aunt is (lit: to my aunt are...) thirty three years old.

Э́тому де́реву (dat.) шестьсо́т пятьдеся́т четы́ре года.
This tree is (lit: to it are...) six hundred fifty four years old.

3) From numeral пять, upwards, use лет:

Его́ брату (dat.) со́рок пять лет.
His brother is (lit: to him are...) fourty five years old.

Э́тому го́роду (dat.)ты́сяча лет.
This city is (lit: to city are...) thousand years old.

Э́тому диноза́вру (dat.) миллио́н лет.
This dinosaur is (lit: to it are...) million years old.

4) After ско́лько, не́сколько,мно́го,ма́ло, use лет

In Russian you can ask about someone’s age two ways. If the person you ask is your friend or someone you address as “ты” say:
Сколько тебе (dat. sing.) лет?

When you ask a person you don’t know or someone who is older say:
Сколько Вам (dat. sing.) лет?

When you don’t know, forgot, or misheard someone’s name you can say:
Тебе (dat. sing.) двадцать лет?