I was translating some lyrics and I find this expression


And I have a problem with the one in bold, Reading another questions I find this, and the person how answered uses the example 若い時 / 若い頃 as "In youth", I can understood it as "Young time" (As if the time itself was young) and too as "the moment of youth" = In youth, (Probably the sense changed a little bit because of the translation from my mother language to english)

So I have two options to understood this type of constructions:

  1. It's posible to calify the expresion 時 or 頃 with adjectives (for example, as I said "the time itself was young")
  2. the adjective refers to the speaker and 時 / 頃 is just to refer to that point of time when that adjective was certain.

(Personally I think that both of them exist, But I'm not sure, Please correct me if I'm wrong.) But if I understood the example of the link as "in youth" using the second option I have a new trouble, Why is used "小さな" instead of 小さい" if it refers to "the time when I was small/child/young" so the adjective califies me (a concrete thing) why is not used "小さい"?

  • There is very little difference between 小さな and 小さい used attributively. Where are you getting this stuff about material objects?
    – Angelos
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 13:43
  • I learned it in that way when I was studying it, Anyways according to this, probably it's better to say "Abstract and concrete things" instead of "objects and material or immaterial" which approaching more to physical and non physical, My mistake.
    – Adrian
    Commented Apr 10, 2021 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


In "小さな頃" and "若い頃", the subject is omitted. The subject can be for example "私"(speaker) or "彼/彼女"(a person who is talked about). So, "小さな頃" means "私が(/彼が/彼女が)小さな頃". In many cases if you see adj+"時"or"頃", there is a hidden subject. In most of cases, the subject is the same as the subject of it's main clause.

And "小さな頃" and "小さい頃" mean same thing. Maybe it is true that "adj+な" is used often with abstract things, but we can use "adj+な" of course with concrete things.

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