Quick answer
"De niño" is an adverb which is often translated as "as a child", and "cuando era niño" is a phrase which is often translated as "when I was a child". Learn more about the difference between "de niño" and "cuando era niño" below.
de niño(
deh
 
nee
-
nyoh
)
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (general)
a. as a child
Para mí de niño lo más importante era recibir afecto.Getting affection was the most important thing to me as a child.
b. as a kid
Rosana era muy alegre de niña.Rosana was very cheerful as a kid.
c.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Solía venir a jugar a este parque de niño.I used to come to this park to play when I was a child.
De niña sus padres siempre le decían a Lydia que era muy linda.When Lydia was a kid, her parents always told her that she was very pretty.
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cuando era niño(
kwahn
-
doh
 
eh
-
rah
 
nee
-
nyoh
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (first person)
a. when I was a child
Cuando era niño, mi familia y yo pasábamos los veranos en Mallorca.When I was a child, me and my family spent our summers in Mallorca.
b. as a child
Cuando era niño, yo era mucho más tímido que ahora.As a child, I used to be much shyer than I am now.
2. (third person)
a. when he was a child
Los padres de Ignacio se divorciaron cuando él era niño.Ignacio's parents got divorced when he was a child.
b. as a child
Mi hijo, cuando era niño, le tenía miedo a la oscuridad.As a child, my son used to be afraid of the dark.
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