Is this ‘X was when’ expression idiomatic?

This award (was given to me) was when I was in the fourth grade.

This movie (was released) was when X was the most popular guy in the industry.

Are these two expressions without the parenthesized phrase idiomatic? If yes, is there any difference between the one with and the one without parenthesized text?


Neither of these is idiomatic, either with or without the text in parentheses.

When [CLAUSE] is an expression of time. It has two uses:

  1. As an adverbial it modifies a verb or clause, and there has to be a verb or clause for it to modify:

    [Main clause]         [when CLAUSE].
    [This award was given to me] [when I was in the fourth grade].
    [This movie was released]   [when X was the most popular guy in the industry].

    Note that there is no was linking the two clauses. The WHEN-clause is a subordinate adjunct which modifies the sentence.

  2. As a free relative clause it acts as a [Noun Phrase]. It may be used as a predicate complement with BE, but the subject has to be something which can be a time expression: a date, or a (dateable) occasion.

    [Occasion]              was [when CLAUSE].
    [The highlight of my academic career] was [when I was in the fourth grade].
    [1992]                was [when X was the most popular guy in the industry].

    The WHEN-clause is a constituent of the sentence.

Source : Link , Question Author : Thor , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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