The Use of Articles with Some Semantic Groups of Nouns

§ 44.There are certain semantic groups of nouns which are
very common in English. These nouns are sometimes used as
countables and sometimes as uncountables. Besides, they are of-
ten found as part of set phrases. They include the following se-
mantic groups:

Names of Parts of the Day

§ 45.To this group of nouns belong: day, night, morning,
evening, noon, afternoon, midnight, dawn, twilight, dusk, sun
rise, sunset, daytime, nightfall and the like.

1) When the speaker uses these nouns he often means a par-
ticular day, night, etc. and then naturally the definite article is
used. The limitation is very often clear from the situation or the
context but it may also be expressed with the help of a limiting
attribute.

e.g. The nightwas warm and beautifully still.

He decided to spend the afternoonwith his friends.
The weather was very cold on the dayof his arrival.

Sometimes we find a descriptive attribute with nouns denoting
parts of the day, but the definite article will still be used if the
above mentioned limitation holds good.

e.g. I could see a few faint stars in the clear night.

Iwas not in a hurry, and walked along, basking in thewarm evening.

The definite article is also found with nouns denoting parts of
the day used generically.

e.g. He used to spend the morning lying about the beach.


I often sat up the nightwith him and read to him to ease his
pain.

2) When nouns indicating parts of the day have a descriptive
attribute and are the centre of communication in the sentence
. they are used with the indefinite article (in its aspective func-
tion). This use of the indefinite article is mainly found in the fol-
lowing sentence patterns:

e.g. It had been awet day;the pavements were glistening, though
now the rain had stopped.

It was a fine, warmnight and Charles and I decided to walk
home.

On a hotSeptember evening he strolled idly to the embankment.
We were having tea in my room on a cold January after-
noon.

3) Nouns denoting parts of the day have no article when they
are used as predicatives.

e.g. It was evening when he decided to lay his books aside and
take a walk.

It was nearly midnightand neither of us had eaten for a long

time.

It was dusk but I could see Henry walking across the field.
However, if these nouns are used predicatively with a de-
scriptive attribute, the indefinite article is used (see point 2
above).

But the article is not used with nouns denoting parts of the
day if they are modified by one of the following adjectives:
e.g.It was early morning.

Itwas broad day.

Itwas high noon.