"Мы ждали ночи."
Translation:We were waiting for the night.
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it is in Genitive because "ждать" means waiting and therefore it is waiting FOR something. The preposition FOR isn't there because the verb Ждать doesn't need to use prepositions (as far as I read it before). However, still the wait is FOR something so what comes next in this kind of context has to be in Genitive. Remember: "масло ДЛЯ салатА"......?
In your sentence, "waiting" continues to the present, or very recently.
In "We were waiting", the action was in progress at a particular time in the past, for example "We were waiting for the night, bu the mayor told us to start the fireworks". The particular time is when "the mayor told us". A simpler example: "We were waiting for the night at 8 p.m.
Actually, no. Russian past tense has only two forms, imperfective and perfective, and the concept doesn't really translate directly into English. Your sentence would be "мы там ждали пару часов, но решили пойти домой". But this could also be the translation for "We waited there for two hours..." and "We were waiting there for two hours...."
Both «ждать» and «подождать» use the accusative when the object can affect its own arrival time. When the object cannot change when it arrives, the genitive is used.
In this case, night time always comes at the same time every night and night time cannot change when it comes, so the genitive is used.
Because «ждать» does not require a preposition. One must add the preposition “for” when translating into English to comply with the rules of English grammar for the verb “to wait“ and subtract it when translating into Russian to comply with the rules of Russian grammar.
For other users who just began this exercise on the past tense: The past tense doesn't distinguish by person like the present tense (me, you, he, etc). Instead, it distinguishes by gender, so there's a masculine form of the verb for a m. subject, etc... Also, it distinguishes by number, but only between singular and plural!