"When I was little I did not have a mobile phone."
Translation:Когда я был маленький, у меня не было мобильного телефона.
wouldn't it be grammatically correct to use the instrumental after "был" / "была" (even as it often seems to be omitted in colloquial speech?)
У меня не было мобильного телефона could be translated literally as "There was no mobile phone at my side". Neither "I" nor "phone" is a subject of this sentence (at least in Russian); rather, it has no subject, so a neuter gender is used. Another example of a sentence without a subject: Темнело. - It was getting dark.
For me 'когда я была маленькой' sounds more natural than 'когда я была маленькая'.
just thought I would chime in as well. I would love to know why "when I was young" is not using the instrument case. I believe that's what the grammar books say. Is there a rule I'm missing?