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I attempted to write a joke in Chinese that begins:

我今天26岁
I'm 26 today
(Wǒ jīntiān 26 suì)

And after some confusion about it being my birthday, it continues:

我昨天也是26岁的
I was also 26 yesterday
(Wǒ zuótiān yěshì 26 suì de)

The joke is that the first sentence implies it's my birthday, but it's still technically correct even if it's not my birthday.

(These are my sentences, so I can't be 100% sure the grammar is correct.)

However...

Question: Does saying 我今天26岁 imply it's my birthday today?

In English, if I say "I'm 26 today", it implies it's my birthday today, because otherwise I wouldn't say "today". I'm wondering if it is the same in Chinese.

(P.S. I'm not 26, and today is not my birthday.)

  • To some extent, it does, but still depends on the context and the person you're talking to. Different people might understand differently. – Jason Swift Nov 2 '17 at 4:50
  • While the meaning as pointed in the answer is going to be that. I feel obligated to point out that for native speakers that might not be a funny joke. The humor is often depends on culture and what might be perceived by non-native speakers as a joke, may very well just confuse native speakers. As someone who comes from another culture I experience this in my living in china quite often and most common difference - humor and sarcasm (yes, many people here cannot understand when foreigners are being sarcastic). – Alexey Kamenskiy Nov 2 '17 at 9:11
  • As a matter of fact just asked my SO whether this will be perceived as a joke - according to her it is not ;( – Alexey Kamenskiy Nov 2 '17 at 9:15
  • I guess I'll have to only use this joke on foreigners. – Becky 李蓓 Nov 2 '17 at 10:35
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'我今天26岁' seems very strange to me, but it does transmits the sense that today is the birthday.

If you would like to imply that it is your birthday today, a more proper expression could be '我今天26岁了', where '了' puts in a sense of completion or perfectness so that the sentence would imply 'I turned 26 today', thus revealing that today is the speaker's birthday.

If you simply want to tell your age, '我今年26岁' would seem more natural to native Chinese.

  • Well, I would probably say 我今天26岁 is more appropriate and brief, because '我今天26岁' states a fact and there is no tense needed. In this case, you just set a point at which you would just be 26. And that point could be any day, not merely 今天. It could be 昨天, 后天, xx月xx日. So, we could say 我昨天26岁, 我后天26岁, 我5月6日26岁. Those sentences would indicate that you would have your birthday on that very day. In fact, 我今天26岁 is more like 我今天是26岁 rather than 我今天26岁了。 – dan Nov 2 '17 at 23:05
  • Also, 我今天26岁了。 could be a bit misleading. It's because when you say 我今天26岁了。, it sounds like you emphasize more on 26岁了. The later context could be 我今天26岁了, 我不是小孩子了,你骗不了我了。Well, 我今天26岁 emphasizes more on 今天, which gives people a hint to guess out "今天是你的生日"(today is your birthday.). – dan Nov 2 '17 at 23:27
  • I think 我今天就26岁了 would do the trick. 就 emphasizes that you become 26 exactly today and hence implies today is your birthday. – Huang Nov 3 '17 at 10:46
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The simple answer is 'yes', which is the same reason as you said for English.

Usually, when you say 我今天26岁, it implies that you just reach the point of being 26, that is your birthday.

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