Working day and night is basically an idiomatic expression meaning you were working a lot. Apparently Russian has a similar turn of phrase.
работать днём и ночью would simply mean to be working both during the day and at night, but perhaps you just have irregular shifts that don't add up to a large number of total hours.
Disclaimer, not a native Russian speaker.
My understanding is the instrumental case means you're using something, hence the "instrument":
I write WITH a pen. This meeting sucks, I'm going to stab myself WITH a spork.
(I'm using "with", there are other uses these are just easiest for me.)
Here you're not working with day and night, it's not an instrument. "Day and night" here functions as a noun.
I (subject) was working (verb) day and night (object (accusative)).
This probably isn't exactly accurate, I'm no linguist. But I think it generally holds true.
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"Я работал" is can be used for all English Past Tenses:
"Я работал" (masculine, single) / "я работала" (feminine, single), - "i worked", "i was working", "i used to work", "i had been workimg". For neuter (single) - "это работало" - "It worked", "it was working", "it used to work", "it had been working".
Don't take this as any sort of answer - I'm still sorting this out myself but:
I think it might have something to do with aspect.
работать is (I think) the imperfective meaning on ongoing action. "Was working", even in the past, still feels "ongoing" to me. (/s I'm scientific like that)
I want to delete this reply because I know I'm totally wrong and a moron - but I'm not going to. Because I want to know WHY I'm wrong.
Sorry I can't actually help you. Hopefully someone else will chime in and help us both.
Thank you! But you're killing me.
Everyone on various forums and such seem to hate genitive (and maybe I'm not deep enough into it to hate it yet). I find I have to think about it a second and often get it wrong but it's not the monster people make it seem (so far).
Aspect? Aspect/past tense is going to kill me.
In your clarification to kpagcha I understand what you're saying but I don't understand how to... understand it.
Edit: Wait - I think I ran into this before. And asked it before though in a slightly different scenario. And I clearly still don't get it.
You said that Russian past tense can be used for all English Past tenses. But it seems like, using the Russian past tense (unlike English - because we don't have aspect) assumes that the "previous/past" state is still the current state - even if it was in the past tense - unless someone clarifies explicitly that it's not that way anymore? Am I getting close?
So if I said, in Russian (I'm not going to try it in Russian because I'm not that good at it and I don't want to muddy things with errors):
"I used to work at Microsoft" - it would imply that you had worked there for some time and still worked there now unless you explicitly added a phrase like "But now I work for Apple" or "but now I'm at home with the kids"?
I hope it's at least sort of clear what I'm asking? At this point, with this specific thing, I'm not even sure what my questions should be.
1) Continuous activity (in this case in the past):
"While you were sleeping, i was working" - "пока ты спал (/спала) я работал (/работала)";
"I was working last Saturday from 9 am to 6 PM" - "я работал (/работала) в прошлую субботу с 9 утра до 6 вечера";
2) The regular activity in the past:
"I used to work at the factory, now I work in a supermarket" - "Я работал (/работала) на заводе, теперь я работаю в супермаркете";
3) One action in the past:
"i worked at the Olympic games" - "я работал (/работала) на Олимпийских играх";
These all are used with "я работал (/работала)".
Present Perfect and Past Perfect:
"Я работал (/работала)" / "я поработал (/поработала)" / "я отработал (/отработала)" (the last is often used) "я проработал (/проработала) - means "I have worked" or "i had worked" (it depends on the context). Examples:
"Я работал (/я работала)":
The action finished recently:
"Today I have worked like a robot" - "сегодня я работал (/работала) как робот";
An action that ended at some point in the past:
"Before I came here, I had worked for the company for 2 years" - "Прежде чем я приехал сюда, я работал (/работала) в компании в течение 2 лет".
"Поработал (/поработала)" - поработать means "to spend some time working"
"today I did a good job" - "сегодня я поработал (/поработала) хорошо";
"I have worked on many works" - "я поработал (/поработала) на многих работах"
"Отработать" - "To compensate for the labor (payment received, missed work time, use of property, etc.), to work off the advance."
"today i have worked my work shift" - "сегодня я отработал (/отработала) мою рабочую смену";
"Проработать" - "To make some a certain time, working" or "a detailed study, a comprehensive view of something"
"I worked at the factory for forty years, now retire" - "я проработал (/проработала) на заводе сорок лет, теперь выхожу на пенсию"
"I have worked this problem to find solutions" - "я проработал (/проработала) эту проблему для поиска решений"
"I used to work at Microsoft" - "Я работал (/работала) в Майкрософт" means "now I don't work there". It doesn't need to add a phrase "But now I work for Apple". In Russian, the past is not the current state.
Genitive case. The three meanings:
1) Genitive case in Russian calls "роди́тельный паде́ж". "Родительный" means "parental. This form denotes the genetic (or generic) description of something:
"Сын Джека" - "Jack's son"
"Активы государства" — "assets of the state, the state's assets, state assets".
It is a direct analogue of English possessive form - "kind of".
«Пять долларов» - "five [of] dollars"
"Стакан сока" - "A glass of juice"
3) It is used with negations:
«яблок нет» (short form from "не есть" - "there is no") — "there is no apples", "у меня (/нас) нет яблок" - "I/we have no apples".
I think because "работал день и ночь" and "was working day and night" are corresponding idioms meaning "was working a lot." The default meaning of your suggestion, however, would be that someone worked both day and night shifts (not necessarily a lot of work in total, just alternating schedules). "Worked nights," for example, seems to be translated "работал(а) по ночам."