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I already did some previous researches and found a lot of explanations about the differences between "dark and "darkness", including answers to a question here in StackExchange, but I'm still in doubt about which one to use in some situations - and it's also hard to be sure when they are interchangeable or not.

For instance, in the sentences below is the use of "dark" correct (or acceptable) or should I use "darkness" instead? Or maybe both words can be used without changing the meaning of the sentence.

Can you see that strange light blinking in the dark? It’s being up there for more than an hour and none of us have any idea about what it may be.

And, even with all those clouds in the sky, we were still able to see that tiny star shining far away in the dark.

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Yes, it's used correctly in your sentences.

If you check meanings of dark in the Collins dictionary here, then one of them is defined as follows:

The dark is the lack of light in a place.

In your sentences, the dark matches this definition completely.

You can also replace it with darkness because it's a synonym in this context.

| improve this answer | |
  • It is not completely synonymous. – Lambie Feb 6 at 19:19
  • @Lambie why do think the dark and darkness are not synonyms in the sentences ? – Anatolii Feb 6 at 20:04
  • I said they are not always the same. The darkness of the painting was depressing. You can't say The dark, there. – Lambie Feb 6 at 22:24
  • @Lambie I didn't say they're always the same - I said: "In your sentences, the dark matches this definition completely. You can also replace it with darkness because it's a synonym in this context." – Anatolii Feb 6 at 22:26
  • My answer is more thorough. And the tiny star one does not really work. – Lambie Feb 6 at 22:27
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darkness is the state or quality of being dark.

dark is either an adjective or a noun.

  • The darkness of the night was overwhelming. We could see absolutely nothing outdoors.
  • It was a dark night so we could see nothing outdoors.
  • The thieves crept away in the darkness. [same as the dark, there]
  • The darkness of the colors in the painting was so ugly. [dark does not work here]
  • The dark colors were so ugly. [yes, dark colors]

When discussing whether or not one can see when there is no light, we use "the dark".

  • Raccoons can see better in the dark [noun] or in darkness [noun] than humans.
  • I could not see the cat across the room in the dark or in the darkness.

When referring to lack of light, both darkness or the dark can be used, depending on what you are trying to say.

The suffix -ness in English always adds the idea of quality or state of what precedes it.
- darkness
- lightness [state of not being heavy]
- brightness
- sloppiness

  • a strange light blinking in the dark. [yes]
  • a strange light blinking in the darkness. [yes]

  • a tiny star shining far away in the dark.

The last one is slightly odd since if you can see a star shining, it's obviously night so there is no reason to say dark (except for things like the "morning star"). Also, the night sky is always visible when there are no clouds. The night sky is visible when it's dark, not day.

  • tiny star shining far way in the distance. [more likely]

=ness

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  • "The darkness of the colors in the painting were so ugly. [dark does not work here]" Neither does 'were' :-) – Old Brixtonian Feb 6 at 20:06
  • @OldBrixtonian Is that right? The dark colors [of the painting or whatever] were so ugly but now the artist has brightened them up. Mind how you go. – Lambie Feb 6 at 20:52

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