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In "Им хотелось жить по-старому", is старому in masculine or neuter gender? Why?

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  • Why does it matter? – Cubius Dec 4 '15 at 10:27
  • @Cubius my approach to learning Russian is to go through a list of sentences and understand every component. I assumed старому was a declension of старый, and so the question of its gender was interesting to me. If I understand why it's masculine, or why it's neuter - or maybe it's not a declension of старый - then I will have learned something deeper about Russian grammar that extends beyond this specific example. – ycele Dec 4 '15 at 11:13
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По-старому - наречие, у него нет мужского, женского и среднего рода.

Наречия — неизменяемые слова: они не склоняются и не спрягаются, не имеют окончаний, не изменяются по родам и числам.

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  • Тем не менее оно когда-то произошло от предлога по и прилагательного, вопрос о роде которого вполне осмыслен. – Nikolay Ershov Dec 4 '15 at 11:48
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Presumably neuter. Nounless adjectives used abstractly or referentially take the neuter singular in Russian. (Can't think of the exact term for such usage; what I'm talking about is those cases where Spanish would use lo+masculine, and Latin/Ancient Greek/Church Slavonic would use the neuter plural, if that's any help. E.g. Лучшее — враг хорошего "Better things are enemies of good things.") However, at this point по-старому is, like the previous answerer said, an adverb, and the exact etymology of adverbs is of little relevance. Just how little is demonstrated by the curious fact that the adverb по-русски is technically malformed, being a very old contamination of русски and по-русскому (or the archaic по-русску).

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  • Would you say that "in the old ways" is an accurate translation of по-старому? – ycele Dec 5 '15 at 12:47

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