(the) late evening

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
hit
morning papers often hit the streets in the late evening
M-W

then
It was late evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late.

LDOCE

Hello.
What is the difference between these two "late evenings", i. e. why does the first take an article and the later doesn't ?
Can I use an indefinite article in the second sentence -- "It was a late evening when ..." (I'm sure, in the former sentence I cannot)
Thanks.
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In your first quote, "the" is unnecessary. Not wrong, but unnecessary (and personally, I'd omit it).

    No, you can't add "a" in the second sentence; it would completely change the meaning. As it is, it clearly refers to a particular day when the doctor's services were needed; "late evening" tells us what time of day he or she arrived (which turned out to be too late, presumably to save the sick or injured person). If you put "a" in front of late evening, we're no longer talking about a particular day but about some unspecified evening (and then the rest of the sentence doesn't really make any sense).
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    No, you can't add "a" in the second sentence; it would completely change the meaning. As it is, it clearly refers to a particular day when the doctor's services were needed; "late evening" tells us what time of day he or she arrived (which turned out to be too late, presumably to save the sick or injured person). If you put "a" in front of late evening, we're no longer talking about a particular day but about some unspecified evening (and then the rest of the sentence doesn't really make any sense).
    I've understood. I want to add, when I asked the question I suggested that "a" was supposed to separate "late evening" from other types of evenings (long/cold/early etc). But this has turned out to be wrong, though.
    In your first quote, "the" is unnecessary. Not wrong, but unnecessary (and personally, I'd omit it).
    Ok, this is unnecessary. But what did the author want to convey by this artcle?
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    But what did the author want to convey by this article?
    Nothing special, Vik. As I said earlier, it wasn't necessary, but it wasn't wrong either. It has no special meaning; the sentence could have been written either way. I guess it's confusing when you're learning a language, but there are many times when it just doesn't matter which way something is written, and it depends on what happens to sound better to the individual writer. As I said, if I'd written it, I would have omitted the "the"; that writer chose to include it.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I disagree with Parla. Let's make things clearer by removing the adjective 'late'.

    morning papers often hit the streets in the evening :tick:

    morning papers often hit the streets in evening :cross:

    It was evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. :tick:

    It was the evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. :tick:
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    It was evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. :tick:

    It was the evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. :tick:
    As I see it:
    1) It was evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. - A speaker is emphasizing the time of day when something happened.

    2) It was the evening when the doctor arrived, and by then it was too late. - A speaker is talking about circumstances when something happened. E.g:
    A: One evening something happened.
    B: What evening did this happen ?
    A: It was the evening when the doctor arrived .....
    Am I right?
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    What is the difference between these two "late evenings", i. e. why does the first take an article and the later doesn't ?
    I don't think we can disregard the preposition in the first sentence. We have on the one hand 'in the late evening' (prepositional phrase) and on the other 'late evening' (noun phrase). I think prepositional phrases are in some cases stiffer than noun phrases. One would not normally say 'in morning' but instead 'in the morning'; yet one would say 'at night', not 'at the night'.

    (I agree with your interpretations above.)
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Those two fragments set up the sentence differently. 'When' is a relative adverb in the first and a subordinating conjunction in the second. "It was evening" is a complete independent clause; "it was the evening" is (in context) an incomplete clause. That the interpretations of the sentences in post #6 differ should therefore not be surprising.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    'When' is a relative adverb in the first and a subordinating conjunction in the second. "It was evening" is a complete independent clause; "it was the evening" is (in context) an incomplete clause.
    I didn't know that an article can change a meaning so cardinally. (That's too complicated for me, maybe:D)
    Thanks, everyone.
     

    Ah_poix_e

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Can you say:

    The doctor arrived late evening.
    I know that "The doctor arrived late in the evening" is correct, but what about if I take out the preposition "in", just like in the sentence above?
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Ah_poix_e said:
    The doctor arrived late evening.

    No. This is as odd as "The doctor arrived day."

    Some preposition is needed: The doctor arrived by late evening. The doctor arrived toward late evening.

    Edit: I'm wrong. It is certainly not as bad as "arrived day", and I easily find expressions similar to yours using a book search.

    (I like my versions better.)
     
    Last edited:

    Ah_poix_e

    Senior Member
    Portuguese
    Hi srk,

    Thank you so much.
    I read it somewhere and I was not entirely sure it was right. Now I know! :)
    I wouldn't say it myself; I think I would simply say "He arrived late in the evening" but your versions seem OK to me as well. :)




    No. This is as odd as "The doctor arrived day."

    Some preposition is needed: The doctor arrived by late evening. The doctor arrived toward late evening.

    Edit: I'm wrong. It is certainly not as bad as "arrived day", and I easily find expressions similar to yours using a book search.

    (I like my versions better.)
     
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