Деда его тогда уже не было в живых

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by clomu, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. clomu Junior Member

    Деда его тогда уже не было в живых.
    (sorry, in the thread title, i wrote incorrectly)

    I translate this as:
    His grandfather was at that time already not among the living.

    or as I would say it:
    His grandfather had at that time already past away.

    What I don't understand is, why is было used instead of был?
    Grandfather was not -> Деда не был

    Thank you.
  2. Maroseika Moderator

    Formally, you can use был as well: Дед его тогда уже не был среди живых (дед - the subject).
    But the initial phrase is impersonal (безличное предложение), that is why деда не было and not дед не был. Деда is Genitive here (Не было кого? Деда).

    Nominative for grandfather is дед, not деда. However the word деда also exists - as childish word for дед or Vocative.
  3. clomu Junior Member

    thank you for the help. that makes things more clear to me.
    is there a way to translate the phrase into english and preserve the impersonal construction?
    "it was not of the grandfather..." ... i cant figure out how to do it.
  4. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    It is very awkward, but the closest I can think of is "there is no grandfather".

    Please use capitals as appropriate.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  5. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    Agree with rusita, it sounds awkward, though possible: "by then there was no longer any grandfather", "by then there was no longer (a) grandfather", "by then there was no grandfather any more" - and you couldn't put "his" in there, though it would surely be understood in the context.

    Note that if the negative уже не было construction is translated by a negative verb in English, you can't say "already". You have to say "no longer" or "no(t)... any more".
    By then there was no grandfather already :cross:.
    By then his grandfather had already passed away. :tick: (not past - that's an adjective or adverb, not a form of the verb "to pass" [pass/passed/passed])
    By then his grandfather was no longer alive. :tick:.
    By then his grandfather was not alive already. :cross:
    By then his grandfather wasn't alive any more. :tick:

    But why would you seek to translate it using an impersonal construction? This sort of impersonal construction is perfectly idiomatic in Russian, but certainly isn't in English. One of the biggest problems in translation is that people try to translate grammar instead of meaning.
  6. clomu Junior Member

    Alright. Thanks a lot. That makes sense.

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