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Tell me please the difference between the following sentences.

I didn't sleep during the night.

I didn't sleep through the night.

I didn't sleep throughout the night.

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In most contexts, "through" and "throughout" can mean the same thing - that something occurred constantly, or regularly across the entire period stated, although you can also say "all through" which specifically means that it was constant. "During" means that something occurred at some given point in the period stated.

For example:

"The burglar alarm sounded during the night"

... this would mean that the burglar alarm went off at some point during the night.

"The burglar alarm sounded throughout the night"

... this could either mean that the alarm rang constantly, the whole night; or that it repeatedly went off during the night.

"The burglar alarm sounded all through the night".

... this would mean it rang for the entire night.


However, your specific examples about sleep are a little different because you are saying that you didn't sleep. Because you are speaking in the negative, it can sound a bit weird to say that something didn't happen constantly.

Another reason that your example is somewhat different is because "not sleeping" does not always mean literally no sleep - it can refer to poor sleep, broken sleep, or very little sleep.

I didn't sleep during the night.

This doesn't sound particularly idiomatic. It sounds like you are saying that you slept some other time, not during the night. It doesn't really fit this context.

I didn't sleep through the night.

"Through the night" is idiomatic in itself and means that you slept from beginning to end. Parents say that babies "sleep through" to mean they have passed the phase where they frequently wake up. This phrase therefore suggests that you woke up at some point, possibly more than once.

I didn't sleep throughout the night.

Again, this doesn't sound particularly idiomatic, because it is saying something didn't happen constantly. I wouldn't say it.

If you intend to say that you did not sleep at all, I would suggest as alternatives:

  • I was awake all night.
  • I didn't/couldn't sleep at all last night.
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