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If I am talking about someone, and want to indicate that they are very old (not in a negative way, just stating a fact), how do I do that?

Something like this? 他是老人

  • 他很老了。 or 他年紀很大了。 or 他已經是個古稀之人了。 – user3a May 14 '17 at 7:52
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'他是個老人' - 'he is an old man'

It is a plain statement. The classifier 個 should not be omitted because 老人 could be a noun or adjective. '他是老人' sounds like your sentence is incomplete. Using the classifier 個 indicates it is a noun and it is a complete sentence (not "他是老人... 恊會的主席" )

'他是個老人家' - 'he is an elderly'

'老人家' is more respectful term than just '老人'

Notice '他老人家' - (he the elder) is a respectful way to address someone senior in age, or high in status.)

'他是一名長者'- 'he is an elderly'

The classifier for '長者' (senior/ elderly) should be those that reserved for human only, like '一位' or '一名'.

'他是個上了年紀的人' - 'he is a man of advanced age'

A matter of fact statement

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You can also replace 他 with an inanimate subject "他(的)岁数"

他岁数很大了

他上岁数了 or 他上年纪了 can also express the same idea and is common in daily use.

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first of all,Im chinese,if i express wrong in english grammar,hope to forgive me,welcome to make a friend to communicate chineses,english,just help each other,if you major in computer science or software,it's couldn't be better. ok,if you want to say old to people likely grandparents,you should say 'ta shi yi wei zhangbei'--'他是一位长辈';'ta nianji henda'--‘他年纪很大’;'ta shangle suishu'--‘他上了岁数’;‘tashi zhangzhe’--‘他是长者’;'tashi laorenjia'--'他是老人家'

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