since midnight last night

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
-- We've had more than 3000 calls since midnight last night.
Ghostbusters II, movie

Please, explain to me this phrase. Thank you.
 
  • Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    Because if you were speaking in the middle of the day, just "since midnight" would sound a bit strange.
    Yes. If it's 3:00 in the afternoon, I would say:
    "I have been in this meeting since 2:00." (It's in the recent past.)
    but
    "I haven't eaten anything since 6:00 this morning." (It's been a long time since then, so I use "this morning" to clarify.)
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    I think that, for most people, the day starts at around 8:00 am (or at sunrise), not at one past midnight (although it does technically start at midnight). So, it's more usual to think of midnight as a moment in time belonging to the past.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone!

    What's the borderline time to use it without "last night" in this case and sound idiomatic? I mean, if I say "since midnight", say, at 10 in the morning -- is it ok? Or should it be at 9... 8... or even earlier?
     

    Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    Thank you everyone!

    What's the borderline time to use it without "last night" in this case and sound idiomatic? I mean, if I say "since midnight", say, at 10 in the morning -- is it ok? Or should it be at 9... 8... or even earlier?
    I don't know if there's a real answer to this question -- different people might have different feelings :)

    If I've been awake the whole time, I'd probably say the part of the day that something happened, only if it happened in a different part of the day (morning vs. afternoon vs. night). If it was pretty close (11:30am vs. 12:30pm) I wouldn't clarify.

    If I'd been sleeping and then got up in the morning, I'd absolutely always use "(time) last night" to refer to any time before I went to sleep.

    (Weirder cases: If something happened while I was sleeping and it was at "night," I would still say "(time) last night." If something happened while I was sleeping but I perceived it to be in the early morning, I would say "(time) this morning" or "(time) in the morning.")
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think you'd say 'since midnight' at some stage after midnight but before you go to bed.

    You'd say 'midnight last night' from more or less whenever you get up and, for you, it's now 'today'.


    Cross-posted.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Part of the problem with the terminology is that you say midnight but you don't mean exactly 12:00 a.m. (or 12:00:01 a.m. to avoid confusion*). People just add the "last night" to strengthen the sense that it was at night and close to that hour, before or after the change of day.

    *This from the nation that established the time zones:

    "There are no standards established for the meaning of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. It is often said that 12 a.m. Monday is midnight on Monday morning and 12 p.m. is midday. This puts all the times beginning with 12 and ending with a.m. in the same one-hour block, similarly with those ending with p.m. It can also be argued that by the time you have seen a clock showing 12:00 at mid-day it is already post meridiem, and similarly at midnight it is already ante meridiem. Times in the first hour of the day are sometimes given as, for example, 00:47 a.m., with 00:00 a.m. corresponding to midnight, but with a time twelve hours later given as 12:47 p.m.

    "Another convention sometimes used is that, since 12 noon is by definition neither ante meridiem (before noon) nor post meridiem (after noon), then 12 a.m. refers to midnight at the start of the specified day (00:00) and 12 p.m. to midnight at the end of that day (24:00). Given this ambiguity, the terms 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. should be avoided."

    Is midnight 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.? (FAQ - Time) : FAQs : Reference : National Physical Laboratory
     
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