How Old Are You?

Now that we’ve covered Polish numbers, it’s fairly straightforward to explain how to ask and answer ‘How old are you?‘.

In Poland, you have an age and the verb mieć (to have) is used (we learned how to conjugate this in Class 3 Verbs.)

The question is therefore ile masz lat? informally, meaning literally ‘how many years do you have?’. In the familiar third-person form used for making questions more formal (see introductions), an alternative is ile pan/pani ma lat?.

The question is answered with ‘I have X years’ – with one slight complication. Here are two examples:

Mam dwadzieścia siedem lat. I am 27 years old.
Mam trzydzieści cztery lata. I am 34 years old.

Notice that the first uses lat and the second, lata. To see which word you need to use, look at the last digit of the age and follow these rules:
Age ending with 2,3 or 4 lata
Age ending with any other number lat

The only exceptions are 12-14 which are lat and the number one (on its own). 1 year is not 1 lat or 1 lata, but 1 rok
The reason why lata (year) changes to lat has to do with cases (when quantifying things, the noun usually takes the genitive case for numbers except those ending 2, 3 or 4, in which case it takes the nominative). The cases are summarised here but we’ll be covering them all in more detail soon!
Elderly People Crossing

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