The word «год» has two plural genitive forms. When you count years, you use «лет»: мно́го лет 'many years', со́рок лет 'fourty years'. However, in other contexts you use «годо́в»: Индия пятидеся́тых годо́в 'India of 40's'.
Лет actually is the form of ле́то, so when you count years, you actually count summers. :)
Nice fact.we have a similar expression in Hebrew that you use in a poetic way but we count Springs usually . maybe because in Russia its super cold and hard so summer is a good thing and in Hebrew its referring to Israel and the summer is so hot so the spring is colder but still bright. i am just guessing here tho :). anyway thank you for the explanation!
I just looked this up and it turns out that when you're talking about a certain number of years, rather than a general quantity like много, you have to pick one or the other, based on the last numeral in the number:
"Why are Russian numbers so strange? Well, for 2-3-4 these are the remnants of Dual number (which is between the singular and the plural)." https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ru/Time-and-Numbers
I can almost feel my mind expanding....
Is it? I've never heard of such usage.
Are you sure you're not confusing it with «многая лета»? «Многая лета» is literally the same thing as «много лет», but it's Church Slavonic and not Russian. Also, it's reportedly used on birthdays, but I've only heard it on weddings. The only case when I've seen it to refer to birthday is the Ukrainiain translation of Harry Potter.
Может и слышал, но точно не часто. Сама фраза ухо не режет, но сказать, что она well loved — это по-моему перебор.
1 = singular
Numbers which end in 1 when spoken (21, 31, 41, ...) = singular
2, 3, 4 and numbers which end in those when spoken (22, 23, 24, 32, 33, 34, ...) = genitive singular
all other numbers (i.e. 5–20 and numbers past 25 that end in 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0) = genitive plural
Note that 11, 12, 13, 14 get genitive plural because their spoken form does not end in "one, two, three, four".