"It is an old film, I watched it fifteen years ago."

Translation:Это старый фильм, я смотрела его пятнадцать лет назад.

November 22, 2015

This discussion is locked.


and why not тому назад?


«Тому назад» is also possible but quite a bit outdated and bookish (i.e., unlikely to be used by someone younger than 50-60). Also, probably, better with bigger numbers like 100 years ago :)

We accept it in some sentences but I would not recommend using it in spoken or written speech regardless of the level or formality you are aiming at.

From what I can gather from the corpus data, «назад» overtook «тому назад» as the more popular form before the WWII.


Well, I'm 57, so I guess that explains that. It's four-to-one on Google for 15 лет назад/15 лет тому назад; a sizeable gap, but the latter is certainly not uncommon.


Actually, if you search it correctly, with inverted commas ("15 лет тому назад"), the proportion is 25 to 1.

You can search Google Books, too, where it is more favourable. However, Google Books are not a reliable source when the supposed genre and style differ.


Actually, I did search properly, but more properly: I wrote out пятнадцать. I guess that does strengthen the generation gap argument.


Not actually a gap... you have to know both expressions anyway. It is not like «тому назад» fell out of use centuries ago. You will still see it used in literature and Soviet era films that you CAN and SHOULD understand. The people who use it will be noticeably older than you, though. That's why I do not recommend learning it that way—even our older learners are probably not THAT old.

Anyway, judging by the corpus data, at your age you still would be an order of magnitude more likely to use just назад in speech or writing if you were a native speaker.


Interesting! I always said тому назад, but I learned my Russian in the 1970s.


what is the difference between saying смотрел -посмотрел ? i thought the latter should be used in past actions that were one-off like watching a movie for x amount of time and then stopping , is my process wrong ? what's the most commonly used form ? thanks


It is the aspect. You are right that a single action in the past is expressed with посмотреть (especially in a sequence). However, when you merely mention an action happening at least once (because it is relevant to what you are saying now), you use the imperfective. So the choice depends on what you mean.

It is similar to using "I watched" vs. "I have watched" in English—except you cannot provide a time reference with Present Perfect in English. On the other hand, in Russian you can easily describe the approximate period when the event occured ("yesterday", "in the 90s", " a year ago", "in January or February"). This is still considered it a vague reference. The idea is, seeing the movie might have not occured but it DID, at least once (but maybe more—that does not matter). With посмотрел, it is a reference to a specific instance of watching the whole movie, exactly once.

Basically, if you mean you are familiar / not familiar with a film, a book, a band, you usually use the past forms of смотреть, читать, слушать (e.g. «Я не читал „Гарри Поттера“» or «Да, она смотрела „Евангелион“»).

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.