nine o'clock <in the evening> <at night>

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Muhammad Khatab

Senior Member
Classical Arabic
I'm meeting you at nine o'clock in the evening/at nine o'clock at night.
Which is right according to the exact definition of "evening"? And what is this exact definition? Since I have read many different interpretations of "evening".
Thanks!:)
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I would say '9 o'clock in the evening', to distinguish between 'nine in the morning', say if I'm booking a taxi for tomorrow, but 'at night' would not be wrong. I suppose that 'night' means to me after the time people usually go to bed and especially after midnight.
    However, if we need to make it very clear, we use the 24-hour clock system. "I'd like to be picked up at nine pm, that's 21 hundred hours, tomorrow". We're used to the 24-hour clock in the UK.
    'Night' can also be used for whatever one considers an unreasonable time! If someone called me for a chat after 9pm, I might ask why they're 'calling me at night'. It will be interesting to see what other people think. :)

    Edit. Just to add that in speech I rarely say ' - o'clock'.
     
    Last edited:

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In its exact definition "night" always lasts from sunset until sunrise, while "evening" starts before sunset and continues during several hours of "night". There are several hours each day that are both "evening" and "night". Nine PM is "night" for everyone, and is also "evening" for many people.

    The exact hours that are called "evening" is undefined. It differs for different people, for different kinds of activity, and probably for other things.

    Example 1: A family lives on a farm. They start work at dawn, and they go to bed at 7 pm. For them 9 pm is "night".

    Example 2: You attend a party in a city, or a dinner party in Madrid. The party starts at 10 pm in the "evening". When you leave at 2 am, it is "night".
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    We're used to the 24-hour clock in the UK.
    No we're not. We understand it, but we're much more likely, in normal informal life, to say (for example) six thirty pm than eighteen thirty hours.
    It will be interesting to see what other people think.
    I'm with you on that one, except that I think you must be an early bird. If someone called me at 9am, I'd wonder why they were calling me in the middle of the night.:)
     

    Hinata Sama

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    In its exact definition "night" always lasts from sunset until sunrise, while "evening" starts before sunset and continues during several hours of "night". There are several hours each day that are both "evening" and "night". Nine PM is "night" for everyone, and is also "evening" for many people.

    The exact hours that are called "evening" is undefined. It differs for different people, for different kinds of activity, and probably for other things.

    Example 1: A family lives on a farm. They start work at dawn, and they go to bed at 7 pm. For them 9 pm is "night".

    Example 2: You attend a party in a city, or a dinner party in Madrid. The party starts at 10 pm in the "evening". When you leave at 2 am, it is "night".
    Hi, dojibear
    Do you think we can say nine o'clock in the night? as in I get off work at nine o'clock in the night.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I would use "at" instead of "in the". People that use a 12-hour clock usually say:

    - nine (o'clock) in the morning (09:00)
    - nine (o'clock) in the evening (21:00)
    - nine (o'clock) at night (21:00)

    - one (o'clock) in the afternoon (13:00)
    - one (o'clock) in the morning (01:00)

    I don't know why "night" uses "at" but it does.
     

    Hinata Sama

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I would use "at" instead of "in the". People that use a 12-hour clock usually say:

    - nine (o'clock) in the morning (09:00)
    - nine (o'clock) in the evening (21:00)
    - nine (o'clock) at night (21:00)

    - one (o'clock) in the afternoon (13:00)
    - one (o'clock) in the morning (01:00)

    I don't know why "night" uses "at" but it does.
    Do you think it is because I am talking about a habitual event so people may tend to use 'at‘?
    But if it is a specific incident, we can use 'in'?
    As in "I still remember what happened last week. It was nine in the night when I saw a man jump into the river"?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Do you think it is because I am talking about a habitual event so people may tend to use 'at‘?
    I think native speakers people use "nine oçlock at night," because that's the way they've heard it their whole lives.
    But if it is a specific incident, we can use 'in'?
    As in "I still remember what happened last week. It was nine in the night when I saw a man jump into the river"?
    Native speakers, who never worry about such so-called "rules" where idiomatic usage is concerned, would understand it, despite it not being natural.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I agree. "In" would be understood, but everyone would say "at night". Specific incidents and habitual events aren't different.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "In the night" is about darkness, not about time. "At night" refers to (part of) the dark time of the daily cycle.
    I was about to post something quite similar. In December, when it gets dark around 4 pm in my time zone, I'd probably say "9 o'clock at night." In June, when daylight (or at least twilight) extends to well past that time, it would be "9 o'clock in the evening."

    In other words: see post #6. It's about three and a half years old, but this aspect of English hasn't changed much since then.
     
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