"There was no fog yesterday."
Translation:Вчера не было тумана.
Yes, it is but it’s genitive due to negation. In Russian, the whole sentence has to be negated, thus we must have sentence like «Я ничего не знаю о никого» and «Я никуда никогда не с никого не иду».
Thanks for your answer, but I realized that туман is not the subject of the sentence: they way I understand it is the subject is an unstated dummy noun (sort of like the word "it" in the sentence "it is raining"). So this sentence means something, a bit more liberally translated: like "Yesterday it was not of fog," where "it" is the dummy subject (which is apparently of the neuter gender).
Yes, that is actually a good way of thinking of it! You can see that the subject of the sentence is neuter because of the conjugation of the word быть: было.
I should also mention that I think the latter sentence in my example would be «Я никуда никогда не с кем не иду».
I'm trying to figure out why было and not был. Туман is a masculine noun. Declining it in the genetive doesn't change that, does it?
- present: У меня нет котов (I have no cats), там нет людей (there are no people), там не бывает людей (there can be no people)
- future: у меня не будет котов (I'll have no cats), там не будет людей (there will be no people)
- past: у меня не было котов (I had no cats), там не было людей (there were no people)
As you see this impersonal negation is an invariable construction. So не было does not depend on туман. You can construct something like "вчера туман не был" where туман and не был are related but it sounds as unnatural as English "yesterday fog was not". I think this is something to get used to, not comprehend.
When do you use нет and when do you use не to say something is not/was not there?
No, you can't. You can say "завтра тумана нет" (and with verbs in Present), but it would be like English Present Continuous meaning the future.