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in the night /at night

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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in the night /at night

Post by sri_india » Mon Sep 06, 2004 3:31 pm

What is the difference between the two expressions in the night and at night? We say --"the moon rises at night". Is it okay to say-- "the moon rises in the night", "the lilies blossom in the night".

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Post by Alan » Tue Sep 07, 2004 11:53 am

'At night' means simply 'during the night', whereas 'in the night' has the rather more specific meaning of 'in the middle of the night', and thus tends to be limited to more poetic or graphic contexts than its simpler equivalent. Thus, we might have e.g.

I heard an owl hooting in the night.

(meaning 'at some point in the middle of the night')

but we would not say

?He works in the night.

to mean that his work occurs during the night hours.

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