Friday, 28 February 2014

A question of time: 「夜中」

Hi everybody,

Question: How do you say 「夜中」in English?
Most students answer this by saying "midnight." Unfortunately, this is wrong.

"Midnight" or "12 midnight" means 「午前零時」in Japanese. It is a specific (明確な) time and requires the preposition (前置詞) "at" when used in a sentence. For example:
  The movie started at (12) midnight. 映画は午前零時に始まりました。

On the other hand (一方), 「夜中」 is unspecific or even vague (曖昧) and often needs the preposition "in." The phrase "in the middle of the night" is a good translation of 「夜中」and is commonly used in conversation. An example is the following sentence:
  I woke up in the middle of the night夜中に目が覚めました。

If you want to be more specific when saying 「夜中」 you can use "a.m." For example:
  I got up at 3 a.m. 夜中の3時に起きました。
Again, because the time is specific (3 a.m.), the preposition "at" is needed.

Time to go,


P.S. 「午後零時」is "noon" or "12 noon" in English.