The other day I was watching a video on Youtube and the guy in that video was complaining about his neighbor. When his neighbor, a frail old lady, came to his house at 01:30 in the morning and complained about something, he got pissed. He was shocked that she came at 01:30 in the morning. That phrase really caught my attention.

Do native speakers use the expression "in the morning" after 12 AM even though it`s actually pitch dark?

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    Since 'a.m.' means 'before noon', midnight could be seen as both 12 a.m. and 12 p.m.! (sorry - a pet peeve of mine.) Commented Jun 12 at 17:43
  • @KateBunting It's definitely a confusing point, but pretty sure there's an "official" answer that midnight is 12am and noon is 12pm. I guess the idea being that, if we're measuring a "time line," a 1-dimensional string of numbers, then "the meridian" is a point, 0-dimensional. At 12:00:01 we're already past it. Commented Jun 12 at 18:34
  • Related: Why 11 am + 1 hour == 12:00 pm?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 12 at 23:08
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    People never, or very rarely say '01:30', ('oh-one-colon-thirty'), especially followed by 'in the morning'. The morning starts at midnight at lasts until noon, so 'one-thirty in the morning' is a normal saying. Even in lands where the 24-hour or 'military' time formal is in widespread or official use, people often stick to the 12-hour format for events in their home lives. Commented Jun 13 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is common wording. Here are some idiomatic phrases that a native speaker might use to describe something happening any time after midnight and before sunrise/standard wakeup time:

A: I can't believe my son, he was out until all hours last night. He came home at two in the morning! Can you believe it? What's a parent supposed to do?

B: When my daughter was a teenager, we had a strict curfew. She had to be home by 10 pm and in bed by 11. She wouldn't have dreamed of coming home at 2 am.

A: God! I wish my son was responsible like that. Even when he is home he's up in the middle of the night.

As a conjecture, Americans especially might use in the morning phrasing to distinguish 2 am from 2 pm, since the US exclusively uses a 12-hour clock. So often when you are verbally talking about time, you'll add "In the afternoon" or "In the morning" or "At night" etc. after the number to clarify whether you mean AM or PM. These phrases are used in spoken English interchangeably with "AM" and "PM."

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    Oddly enough, times in the PM might variously be "in the afternoon," "in the evening," or "at night" depending on the specific time, but for AM it's always "in the morning."
    – YonKuma
    Commented Jun 12 at 17:15
  • @YonKuma - except that early AM hours are often considered "in the middle of the night"
    – DJ.
    Commented Jun 12 at 17:30
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    @DJ. I'm referring exclusively to these used with the hour in a phrase, eg "two in the morning" or "one in the morning". I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "one in the middle of the night".
    – YonKuma
    Commented Jun 12 at 18:16
  • @YonKuma Oh ok sorry
    – DJ.
    Commented Jun 12 at 18:37
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    @Beqa No, it sounds unusual if you translate it word by word into your language. In English it sounds normal. morning starts at 12am and continues until 12pm. 1am is both "in the middle of the night" and "1 in the morning"
    – James K
    Commented Jun 12 at 19:44

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