younger - "when I was younger"

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by The Prof, Aug 30, 2014.

  1. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    I have being trying to translate this, but Googling my attempts has thrown up some doubts.

    My first attempt was "когда я былa моложе", using the short form of the comparative adjective. That seems to be ok, as Google found plenty of examples that matched.

    However, my second attempt, "когда я былa младшая" doesn't seem to be right. I think that this form is usually used before the noun, but thought that such adjectives could be used after nouns too. Judging by the lack of matches found by Google, I seem to be wrong. However, I did find quite a lot of examples using "когда я былa младшeй" This has left me wondering, does this also mean "younger", and where does the ending come from? I don't understand why it ends in "eй"

    My Russian is still very very basic, so if you think you could help me with this, please could you explain it in English. Thanks :)
  2. TeacherRussian Member

    Russian - Moscow

    There are 2 possible ways to say "when I was younger": "когда я была моложе" and "когда я была младше". They have different meanings though. In the first one, the person speaking is already an adult who is speaking about his (her) past, in the second one, it's a child or a teenager speaking about his (her) past.

    We have to use the comparative adjective here. "Younger" is English is also the comparative form from the adjective "young". "Младшая" and "младшей" are not possible, because they are not comparative forms.

    Comparative adjectives end in "e" or "ee" in Russian: красивый - красивее, счастливый - счастливее, молодой - моложе...

    Some are exceptions:

    Both "моложе" and "младше" are actually exceptions.
  3. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Your first attempt is right. Младшая means permanently younger/youngest/minor/subordinated (the youngest daughter, the youngest wife, the youngest branch on the genealogical tree). Младшей is the Instrumental Singular: the declinable parts of speech often stand in this case after non-Present forms of быть.
  4. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    Thank you, both of you.

    Your answers are very helpful, especially the explanation of the difference between "когда я была моложе" and "когда я была младше".

    I'm still not sure of the reason for using the eй ending in the phrases ""когда я былa младшeй" that Google found. I know that context is important (especially so in Russian, it seems to me), but I can't think how the instrumental singular could find its way into that phrase :confused: However, I will ignore that problem for the time being and concentrate on the basics. Hopefully everything will become clear one day :)
  5. TeacherRussian Member

    Russian - Moscow

    You can't use the phrase "когда я была младшей" because you need a comparative adjective there, and "младшей" is just the Instrumental case of "младшая", which is not a comparative adjective in Russian.

    The ending "ей" is one of the 2 possible endings of feminine adjectives in the Instrumental case. The other one is "ой" You can use it in sentences like: "Она была хорошей хозяйкой" or "Она была красивой женщиной". The reason of using the Instrumental case is the verb "быть" used to characterize something or somebody.
  6. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    Actually, младше and младшая in the modern language are different words, related in form but not in meaning. Младше is neither a short form nor the Comparative degree of младшая.

    Когда я была младшей you have found in Google actually consists of several constructions, at least one of which is substandard (one cannot use младшей without a noun as in когда я была младшей, мне хотелось быть взрослой).
  7. Maroseika Moderator

    Maybe the context with младший was like that:

    Я в нашей семье младшая.
    Когда я была младшей в классе, меня все обижали. Но потом в наш класс пришел мальчик еще младше меня, и все переключились на него.

    In this case there is no need in noun for младший, because some noun is always presumed (младшая дочь, младший ученик).

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