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02 / 10 / 2007

AGE in ENGLISH: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Even students with an intermediate or upper-intermediate level of English often forget that we use the verb BE to talk about age (and not HAVE). Today I want to review this difference, since it is especially difficult for those of you who speak Spanish or Catalan as a first language.

Typical Error --> ***John has ten years.*** (INCORRECT

Correct Version --> John is ten years old. OR John is ten.

Notice that I have included two correct versions. One that includes the complete phrase "ten years old" and another that only includes the age ("ten").

It is important to remember that when we state someone's age, we have two options:

--> BE AGE YEARS OLD (Sandy is 35 years old.)
--> BE AGE (Sandy is 35.)

NOTE: You CANNOT say AGE YEARS only (***Sandy is 35 years.*** INCORRECT).

When we have a birthday, we use the structure TURN/BE AGE.

Example 1:
Sandy's birthday is this Friday. She's going to turn 36.

Example 2:
Sean wanted to accompany his friends to the bar, but he won't be 21 until next February, so he can't.

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Have a good day.

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