Let us dwell on a group of words combined into one category related to the concept of time. It nouns which designate part of the day (parts of day) and seasons (seasons). The main provisions of this article will be very similar to the rules for the use of the article with nouns denoting meals.
We do not depart from the canons and remember the basic rule that the article with nouns denoting part of the day and seasons, does not happen in the event that these words are used in the abstract. They express their fundamental value (namely, the time of day or time of year), in a very general sense.
Spring is the best time to start new life. — Spring — the best time to start a new life.
It was midsummer, the garden was full of flowers. — In mid-summer the garden was full of flowers.
The gnomes were building their tiny house from dawn to dusk. — The gnomes have built a tiny house from dawn to dusk.
Night fell when we were halfway to town. — We were halfway to the city as night fell.
In autumn I always feel blue. — In the fall I always sad.
It was late evening when she called Tom. — She called volume late at night.
If the noun has a descriptive definition, we resort to the use of the indefinite article in the English language. Exceptions are such definitions as early (early), late (late), real (true), broad day (afternoon); nouns in the predicative functions, some expressions.
We were expecting a frosty winter this year. — We expect that this year’s winter will be frosty.
It all started on a Saturday evening. — It all began in the evening on Saturday night.
The storm is over; it’ll be a lovely day tomorrow. — The storm is over, tomorrow will be a beautiful day.
I can never sleep on a moonlit night. — I can not sleep at night, if the street is all moonlight.
Note the exception:
In late evening all birds fly up into the trees to roost. — Late in the evening all the birds fly up into trees to park for the night.
It was September. It was early autumn. — It was September, early autumn.
By the way, it should be noted that the phrase to have an early (a late) night, which translates as «early / late to bed,» is used with the indefinite article:
I have not had an early night for a week already. — I’m a week late I go to bed.
If we find the definite article with nouns denoting part of the day or seasons of the year, we understand that we are talking about something specific in this context or situation. The second reason is the presence of the definite article in this case — the existence of a limiting definition for such nouns.
It was the first Saturday of September. — It was the first Saturday of September.
Last time I saw her in the autumn of 2000. — The last time I saw her in the autumn of 2000.
The night before departure was frosty. — The night before departure was frosty.
Talking about the articles in the English language, used the words that determine the time of day and time of year, we can not say about those terms with the English prepositions, nouns in which these are used. These expressions have a clear structure and a fixed set of words including prepositions, articles, and a noun. Therefore, they need to remember by heart, so that in the future not to make mistakes. What kind of expressions with the preposition am I saying?
For example, the following phrase is used the definite article:
- in the morning (morning)
- in the daytime (daytime, during the day)
- during the winter (winter)
- in the late autumn (late autumn)
- all through the night (all night)
- in the dead of night (late at night)
But in these expressions with prepositions at, by, about, past, before, after, towards, till the article is not at all:
- at night (night)
- by noon (noon)
- by midnight (midnight)
- past noon (after lunch)
- after sunset (after sunset)
But this is not all the expressions which have no «article» as a company. You can also meet these:
- all day (long) / from morning till night — a whole day, from morning to night
- all night (through) — overnight
- day after day / day in / day out — every day, every day
- day and night — around the clock
Listen to the news early in the morning. — Listen to the news in the morning.
What do you usually do in the daytime? — What do you usually do during the day?
The visitor appeared only by noon. — The visitor appeared only at noon.
Small children usually sleep in the afternoon. — Young children usually sleep at lunchtime.
I like to look at the stars at night. — I like to look at the stars at night.
The storm lasted all night long. — The storm raged all night.
This topic is closely related to the other as described in the articles that need to pay attention:
- «Article nouns fruit and fish»
- «Article with the names of diseases»
- «Article nouns denoting meals»
After reading them, we recommend to pass the following test: «Test # 3 on the use of articles in the English language.»