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Is there any difference in meaning between the two following sentences? Are "quando ero X" and "da X" both usual when they express a past time period?

  • Quando ero un bambino, piangevo molto.

  • Da bambino piangevo molto.

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    Short answer: no. Also Quando ero bambino. – egreg Oct 8 '19 at 20:29
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The two phrases have the same meaning (as @egreg pointed out in his comment); the latter one seems more informal, but this can be considered my personal opinion.

Please note that you can use "Da + (noun/adj)..." also in other sentences like:

Da grande farò il pilota di Formula 1

= When I grow up, I will be a Formula 1 driver

or

Te lo dico da amico...

= I tell you this as a friend...

You could say that "Da + (noun/adj)..." has a meaning like "in the condition of..."

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As mentioned in other answers, there is no difference when you are referring to yourself. However, you cannot use the da+... construction to refer to others without changing the meaning.

For example, "Da bambino, Sandro Pertini era Presidente" means that Pertini was president while he was a child, while "Quando ero bambino..." means that he was president when YOU were a child.

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  • It seems to me that you missed some of the point of the question. Of course, in your examples, different persons are children. But the question was about subtler differences, as in the examples given there, where in both cases the subject is the speaker. – DaG Oct 13 '19 at 11:13
  • @DaG Thanks. I have clarified my intent. – Stefano Oct 13 '19 at 12:07

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