Way Back When

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beachboy

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"I KNOW I HURT YOU, BUT THAT WAS WAY BACK WHEN".
I'm puzzled by the word "when" in the expression above, which I think simply means "a long time ago". Is that so? Is the expression commonly used both in America and England? Some people say there is something missing in the sentence.
 

Boadicea

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Could it be a spelling mistake? How about using 'then' instead of 'when'? Does it make sense?

I KNOW I HURT YOU, BUT THAT WAS WAY BACK THEN

Or maybe you can complete the idea using 'when':

I KNOW I HURT YOU, BUT THAT WAS WAY BACK WHEN I WAS YOUNG AND STUPID.
 

beachboy

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No, it's not a spelling mistake. Actually it's a John Lennon's song (I'm losing you). I also know a McCartney's song (Rock show) with the same expression: "What's that man holding in his hand? He looks a lot like a guy a kney way back when". I believe there are others...
 

Amigos4

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"I KNOW I HURT YOU, BUT THAT WAS WAY BACK WHEN".
I'm puzzled by the word "when" in the expression above, which I think simply means "a long time ago". Is that so? Is the expression commonly used both in America and England? Some people say there is something missing in the sentence.

beachboy,

"Way back when" is a commonly understood idiom in the USA. The speaker is referring to events that happened in the distant past. The actual time frame is left up to the imagination of the listener.

My recommendation is that you have an understanding of the idiom but try to avoid using it. Complete the thought by adding a couple of 'extra' words. 'Grandfather married my grandmother way back when...bread cost a nickel a loaf.' "I got a promotion way back when... Jimmy Carter was president.'

Cheers,
Amigos4
 
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