Don't Make This Mistake in French: 'Je Suis 25 Ans'

In French, you 'have' an age, so 'J'ai 25 ans' is the correct phrase

The little girl is five. ('La petite fille a cinq ans.')
The little girl is five. ('La petite fille a cinq ans.'). blickpixel/pixabay

If you are 25 years old and someone asks you in French how old you are, you respond: J'ai 25 ans ("I am 25 years old"). Using the verb avoir ('to have") for age is the idiom, and to respond using the verb être (Je suis 25 ans) is nonsense to the French ear.  

The French translation of "to be" is être. However, a lot of English expressions with "to be" are equivalent to French expressions with avoir ("to have").

"To be ___ (years old)" is one of these expressions: "I am 25 (years old)" is not "Je suis 25" or "Je suis 25 ans," but rather J'ai 25 ans. This is just something you have to memorize, along with J'ai chaud (I'm hot), J'ai faim (I'm hungry), and many more expressions with avoir.

Note also that the word ans (years) is required in French. In English you can just say "I'm 25,"
but that does not happen in French. Plus, the number is always written as a numeral, never as a word.

Other Expressions of Age

  • à trois ans > at three (years of age)
  • On fête ses vingt ans. > We're celebrating his twentieth birthday.
  • un enfant de cinq ans > a five-year-old child
  • retraite à 60 > retirement at the age of 60
  • moins de 26 ans > younger than 26
  • Anne Jones, 12 ans > Anne Jones, age 12
  • les enfants de 3 à 13 ans > children ages 3 to 13
  • Le groupe témoin a comporté 30 sujets, âge moyen de 56,9 ans. > The control group consisted of 30 healthy individuals, mean age 56.9.

    More Idiomatic Expressions with 'Avoir'

    • avoir à  + infinitive > to have to do something
    • avoir besoin de > to need
    • avoir chaud > to be hot
    • avoir confiance en > to trust
    • avoir de la chance > to be lucky
    • avoir du charme > to have charm
    • avoir du chien (informal) > to be attractive, have a certain something
    • avoir du pain sur la planche (informal) > to have a lot to do, have a lot on one's plate
    • avoir du pot (informal) > to be lucky
    • avoir envie de > to want to
    • avoir faim > to be hungry
    • avoir froid > to be cold
    • avoir honte de > to be ashamed of/about
    • avoir horreur de > to detest/loathe
    • avoir l'air (de) > to look (like)
    • avoir la frite > to feel great
    • avoir la gueule de bois > to have a hangover, to be hungover
    • avoir la patate > to feel great
    • avoir le beurre et l'argent du beurre > to have one's cake and eat it too
    • avoir le cafard (informal) > to feel low/blue/down in the dumps
    • avoir l'esprit de l'escalier > to be unable to think of witty comebacks in time
    • avoir le fou rire > to have the giggles
    • avoir le mal de mer > to be seasick
    • avoir les chevilles qui enflent (informal) > to be full of oneself
    • avoir l'habitude de > to be used to, in the habit of
    • avoir l'heure > to have (know) the time
    • avoir lieu > to take place
    • avoir l'intention de > to intend/plan to
    • avoir mal à la tête, aux yeux, à l'estomac > to have a headache, eye pain, stomachache
    • avoir mal au cœur > to be sick to one's stomach
    • avoir peur de > to be afraid
    • avoir raison > to be right
    • avoir soif > to be thirsty
    • avoir sommeil > to be sleepy
    • avoir tort > to be wrong

    Additional Resources

    Avoir, Être, Faire
    Expressions with avoir
    Expressions with être

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    ThoughtCo. "Don't Make This Mistake in French: 'Je Suis 25 Ans'." ThoughtCo, Feb. 26, 2018, thoughtco.com/je-suis-25-ans-french-mistake-1369469. ThoughtCo. (2018, February 26). Don't Make This Mistake in French: 'Je Suis 25 Ans'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/je-suis-25-ans-french-mistake-1369469 ThoughtCo. "Don't Make This Mistake in French: 'Je Suis 25 Ans'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/je-suis-25-ans-french-mistake-1369469 (accessed June 18, 2018).