"Я родился пять лет тому назад."
Translation:I was born five years ago.
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No fooling us, Duolingo Russian TTS. We know you were born in 2016. Вы родились пять месяцев тому назад.
A summary of the useful comments buried below:
тому is redundant here, but popular in native Russian speek.
My theory: Since назад only means "backwards", тому назад originally meant "backwards (in relation) to this (point in time)" when the starting point - from which to count back the period in question - was stated in a preceding sentence only. Like English "prior to this".
But nowadays, Russians just keep the тому for the sake of a flowing speech, even when the reference point for the back-counting is obvious - the present day in our example.
I find duo's formulation very misleading in this instance. Only the context could indicate that тому here refers to now. It could refer to any point in time.
Oh, there must have been. But the Duolingo Russian course was actually only a few months old back at the time of my comment. Thx for your upvote and laughs!
No difference. Without this word this sentence has completely the same meaning.
Would one sentence be used over the other for a particular situation? One more formal?
The choice with "тому" is more colloquial and without this one it is more formal.
It's interesting that the long version is the informal one. Usually languages work in the other way.
I can give one example. In Polish some people prefer (at least in the spoken language) to make their sentences longer inserting pleonasms (this applies for the written language, too), particles ("-że" added to words as a means of emphasis) and repetitions.
"I saw it yesterday." "Widziałem to wczoraj" "Ja żem to wczoraj widział" (an example sentence you may hear in a tv series parodying that kind of people, it's not just "colloquial Polish", it's bad Polish, it also presents an example of expressing the past tense in a bad way, with a weird "że+personal_ending" pseudo-auxiliary verb)
"What did you ask him about?" "O co go zapytałeś?" "O co żeś się go zapytał?" ("pytać się" isn't incorrect but I don't consider it a very literate form).
This tendency of making reflexive verbs out of transitive ones seems to be actually quite popular in casual speech (even without this evil "że+ending"), so some people would say "pytać się" instead of "pytać" or "wracać się" instead of "wracać" (again, "wracać się" is not a literate form).
Some people would overuse the word "zapytanie" ("a query") because they think that "pytanie" ("a question") is not enough. Some would use words they don't know to make their language seem more fleshed out ("tudzież" meaning "as well as" used as "or", "czy też"), ("bynajmniej" meaning "not at all" used as "at least", "przynajmniej").
To sum it up, I would say that in casual speech the language may tend to shorten, but casual doesn't necessarily mean colloquial. In colloquial language people would stack up words wanting to say more even if that wouldn't mean that what they say conveys any more meaning. And even a correct usage of some more complex structures might be preferred in colloquial speech or writing, like probably this example in here, just to preserve some kind of flow of speech.
I'm glad you bring this up. I've noticed a couple other times in this course when someone says the informal way is longer. That may appear strange at first, but in English we do this all the time. People say "Look at this here melon," where the standard version is "Look at this melon." It's not a perfect example but hopefully it conjures up some others in the mind.
I can hardly think of a formal situation where I would say that I was born five years ago...
Technically, hundreds of thousands of 5-year-olds learn Russian every year!
блин, они лучше говорют по-русски, чем нас. The rub is, they're better at it than we are.
Они говорят по-русски лучше, чем МЫ. Or Они говорят по-русски ЛУЧШЕ НАС. Both variants are equal.
Everybody! Keep the comments family-friendly! There are children in these forums!
In this case "тому" has the meaning "from this moment of now" / "before". And I think this sentence doesn't need it neither in English nor in Russian. Because "я родился пять лет назад" is absolutely correct. The choice with "тому" is more native. But if you want to use this one in this task you should translate "тому" in English and you would face a problem that nobody says in English this way.
"Тому" has many meanings in Russian. But in this case when it is used with periods of time and the word "назад" it is referring to any period of time of hours, days, years, etc. until now, before.
Neon_Iceberg, it looks like you are a Russian native speaker that's why I want to ask you: WHY "тому" which is Dative for "тот" or "то"? I thought that "назад" takes Accusative Case. Please explain if you are so kind.
You can say this phrase without this word because it is redundant, it's an old fashioned and colloquial. This kind of expression (with this word) looks like a part of a fairy tale, but you can hear this word from your interlocutor in modern speech, so that is why this word is in this course. I do not think that this word is subject to the General rules of forming of sentence structure. It is an exception.
It reminds me of "нету" which apparently is also colloquial and it is not in a particular "падеж" . I am always looking to determine the case on which a Russian word is, so I can remember it easily. In this case, I will have to learn it by heart.
"Тому" doesn't indicate "назад", it just points to the event that is five yers old ( пять лет "чему? dative" тому "событию" ), "назад" - indicates the direction of this event in time ( куда? ), "пять лет" is genetive ( сколько? )
Just a wild guess: long long time ago maybe people used to say "назад к тому времени" (back to that time), and by our time it became a set phrase "тому назад"?
Tortilla's Romance (Триста лет тому назад. Three Hundred Years Ago ) - from a very popular movie in Russia: Приключения Буратино. (The Adventures of Pinocchio) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxaM-cSMqpc
Does anyone know where this expression came from? I know its idiomatic but I still find it hard to understand (with the dative case being used and all).
My Russian teacher said that it is a remnant from older language that uses the expression с тех пор with the тому (I think). She says you can still find this language in fairy tales. Sorry I can't give you a more complete answer.
How would you say "i was born 5 years before (that date)", i.e. when talking about an event in 1980?
I wrote "I was born five years before that" because I saw тому in the sentence, but it was wrong
this might be a tad late for you, but here is a link to a page of videos using "comprehensible russian" if you go to her very first couple of videos (they're about 5 minutes long - and all free) she speaks about birth, life and death. She also says dates and stuff in REAL RUSSIAN SPEAK ... not some computer generated guff ..... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDNbk-uX4D6nsthi8L03fng/videos I have found these pretty useful but, like duo, like befluent, like russia club, no on site gives the full package
I understood this to mean "I was born five years before that". Just wondering if "тому" in this question can only be understood as now in time like it was mention in some of these comments.
is this an authentic sentence of a five year old Russian asked about his age?
The use of "тому" made me believe that the translation would be "I was born five years before that".
That's when a computer converts text into sppech using a database of sounds. This is what the Russian course uses so that's why the pronunciation is sometimes off with the stresd on the wrong syllable or sounds mashed together. But the advantage of it is that it allows for the "turtle" function and probably also the part where our efforts saying the words can be assessed as similar enough or not... I hope that answered your question. :-)
Sometimes Duo accepts incorrect spelling and sometimes it stops me when there is an obvious typo. Here I typed Я родилься пять лет тому назадь and it was accepted despite having incorrectly inserted ь in родился and in назад. This leads me to always check the comments after each question where the correct spelling is written.
Literally "тому" means "to that", i.e. it's the dative case of the demonstrative pronoun "то" ("that"). So it's something like "five years back to that". However, it's just an idiomatic expression and an outdated one at that, so don't pay too much attention to it. You might encounter it if you are going to read Russian literature or fairy tales, but in real speech it's rare. Normally we'd just say "я родился пять лет назад".
why "Я родился рять лет назад" is also ok? and what is the difference with я родился пять лет ТОМУ назад?
Yes, it's ok (except it's "пять"). "Тому" is not really needed. It's just a colloquial expression, that is not even really common nowadays. It doesn't affect the meaning; just makes you sound like a character from an old book.