How old are you?

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How old are you?

Post by Stevenloan » Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:09 am

Hi guys! I hear that in The UK, The US, Australia and Canada, it's considered to be rude when you ask someone the question "How old are you?". Is there a polite way to ask?

Your answers will be greatly appreciated.

StevenLoan
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Phil White » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:52 pm

Whether or not it is rude to ask a person's age depends on many things.

Some people are very touchy about their age. Some people think that it is rude for a man to ask a woman how old she is. Some people think it is rude for younger people to ask older people their age.

If an opportunity arises in conversation, you can usually get away with it by adding "if you don't mind me asking".

"I still remember the glory days of Welsh rugby."
"Goodness me! How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?"

Usually, if you are talking to someone face to face, you can see roughly how old they are, and their exact age is of no real importance, so it really can seem intrusive if somebody asks. I have an advantage. I can only vaguely see a person's face when I am talking to them, and often have no idea whatsoever how old they are. If they know I can't see much, I can always get away with asking them...
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: How old are you?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:09 pm

Another way of doing it without causing offence (especially if the context makes it seem relevant) is to ask how old they were in the year when the event being discussed took place, or even simply to ask what year they were born in.

The advantage of this approach is that your enquiry can be contextualized in relation to some significant occurrence or period rather than making the person feel like an ancient has-been or redundant relic, which could be the effect of asking them directly how old they are.
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Re: How old are you?

Post by BonnieL » Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:34 pm

Erik_Kowal wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 9:09 pm
Another way of doing it without causing offence (especially if the context makes it seem relevant) is to ask how old they were in the year when the event being discussed took place, or even simply to ask what year they were born in.
That way works with me. While I really don't mind anyone knowing how old I am, I don't like nosy people who ask - especially out of the blue. But on the other hand, if Queen Elizabeth comes up in conversation, I'll often volunteer that her coronation was just 2 weeks after I was born. I have a teacup with her picture & the date on it. :D
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Re: How old are you?

Post by trolley » Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:54 am

The only time you're really safe, asking someone's age, is when you are talking to kids. They are always more than happy to tell you how old they are.
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:44 am

If anyone reading this page is curious about how old we all are, I think it should be sufficient for them to be told that we're a bunch of old gits (especially Phil).

That is, except (I believe) for Steven, who seems to be young enough to still have a bunch of young nephews and nieces running around the place. So he is probably a middle-aged git. :wink:
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Stevenloan » Tue Dec 10, 2019 6:21 am

Phil White, Erik, BonnieL and trolley : Thank you all so much for your answers. They really help.

Erik : You're right that I am still young :D I am in my mid thirties. By the way, were you joking when you called yourself and the other members "old gits"? According to an online dictionary, git means "a person, especially a man, who is stupid or unpleasant."

StevenLoan
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Dec 10, 2019 5:02 pm

Mildly teasing banter often involves the use of exaggerating epithets that aren't meant to be taken literally or seriously.
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Stevenloan » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:59 am

Erik : Thanks a lot for your answer. I understand it now.

StevenLoan
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Re: How old are you?

Post by Dunkeld » Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:59 pm

One might ask: "How old were you when man landed on the moon?"
Or: "How old were you when the Berlin Wall came down?"
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