1

Is it

on the night of December 9

or

on the night of December 10

or

on the morning of December 10

What is a grammatically correct way to refer to 1 A.M. December 10?

1

Actually, since the question is about one o'clock specifically, both of these mean exactly the same thing—December 10 at 1:00 a.m:

One in the morning of December 10.
One on the night of December 10.


December 10 at 1:00 p.m. is not referred to by morning or night. Instead, we would say one of the following:

One in the afternoon of December 10.
One on the day of December 10.


In fact, so long as an hour is specified, there is always a word that makes it unambiguous if it's a.m. or p.m.

It's only when you don't specify an hour that it becomes unclear—and that's entirely to do with the fact that people use night and morning somewhat subjectively. So, without specific context, it's open to interpretation and misunderstanding.

7
  • Would you go with any of my proposals (if being specific is not important)? Dec 10 '19 at 10:02
  • And I don't understand why you used different prepositions with 'morning' and 'night'. They are different when you don't specify a date. When you do, however, you should use 'on'. The same goes for 'afternoon' Dec 10 '19 at 10:06
  • @SergeyZolotarev Prepositions are contextual for idiomatic reasons. You could change my examples to use the other, but I don't feel it would be as natural. However, it's a matter of preference, and I had to use something. And, no, if you don't specify a time, you can't really say the night or the morning and expect it to be understood by everyone all the time; somebody would always interpret it differently than you intend. Dec 10 '19 at 12:40
  • Is the word 'morning' really applicable if it's actually night (there's no sunlight at 1 AM)? If I don't want to use numbers, I should say 'on the early morning of December 10', is that right? Dec 18 '19 at 21:49
  • 1
    @SergeyZolotarev It's open to interpretation, as I said in my first comment here. Depending on who is saying it (or hearing it), 1:00 a.m. could be either "in the wee hours of" night or morning. Or possibly both. Some people might say night if they haven't gone to bed yet, while others might say morning if they've set their alarm and woken up then. It all depends on the person. Feb 21 '20 at 16:59
3

The title of your question says "1 am on the 10th December", so my answer is based on the night of the 9th December leading into the morning of the 10th.

I would say:

In the early hours of December 10th.

"The early hours" can refer to any time from after midnight the previous day until daylight, or until someone would normally get up, depending on perspective.

You could further stress just how early it was by saying "the very early hours".

For further reference, this newspaper article refers to a crime that occurred "in the early hours", but a quotation within the article also says that it occurred "around midnight", meaning some time either side of midnight.

If you specify the date then you really have to be accurate about using the terms "morning" or "night", but if you are talking about an approximate time that occurred very close to midnight (so possibly on one date or the next), you could also say "sometime during the night of the 9th of December" and I feel that most would assume that included the early hours of the following morning. After all, most people who wake up in the morning having slept from, say, 10 pm until 7 am, and say "that was a good nights sleep".

12
  • Astralbee, 1am on Dec 10th, is "early hours of Dec 10th", no? Also, we often say 2am or 3am in the morning. In that case, would you agree that one could say "1 am in the morning of Dec 10th"?
    – AIQ
    Dec 5 '19 at 9:29
  • Astralbee, don't you mean the early hours of December 11? (The OP mentions the morning of 11th.) Dec 5 '19 at 9:53
  • I edited my question. Sorry I confused you a bit Dec 5 '19 at 10:23
  • What if I want to use the word 'night' (or 'morning', if it counts as morning despite the sun not being up yet)? Dec 5 '19 at 10:26
  • @SergeyZolotarev Lol.
    – user3395
    Dec 5 '19 at 10:58

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