[i] Use ‘at’ with points of time in the day: at dawn
[ii] Use ‘in’ with parts of the day: in the morning (Longman)

They are saying that prepositions, at and in, are selected by their complements’ meaning: that is, exactly when or a period of time. So it has ‘at’ in [i], while ‘in’ in [ii]. And in the same line, it needs not to be a definite article in [i], it seems. Then, do we have to have the article in [ii] for subdividing a period of time, like as subdividing cake into pieces? If it’s the reason why ‘the’ is used, are there any other examples for the subdivision with definite articles?

1 Answer 1


The rules when the definite article should be used, and when not, are very fuzzy and often derived from tradition. Note,

at dawn

at the break of dawn.

at noon

at high noon

tomorrow [no article nor preposition!]

the day after tomorrow [article but no preposition!]

in the evening [period, with 'in']

at night [period, with 'at']

during the day [neither 'at' nor 'on' work here]

on July, the 4th

in July

on day five (of our journey)

If a rule exists, it's surely very complex and full of exceptions. I think it's best to learn these 'by ear'.

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