Notes on the use of nouns denoting time and meals.
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Nouns denoting time are treated as abstract nouns bordering on proper names. No article is used with reference to parts of the day or of the year, light or darkness, as in:
Evening came. Night fell. Day broke. We’ll wait till night. Twilight is the faint light just before sunset and
just after sunrise. Winter set in. “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
It was early morning (late afternoon, Friday morning, Saturday night, etc.).
It was early spring (late autumn, etc.).
They met at noon (at sunset, at midnight).
However articles may occur with such words according to the common usage of the articles in their (a) specifying, (b) generic, (c) classifying or (d) numerical functions.
a) The evening was calm. The winter is severe this year.
The twilight was sad and cloudy.
We stayed at my aunt’s for the night. (той ночью, в ту ночь)
We watched the sunrise from the balcony.
The winter of 1978 was severe.
It happened on the morning of April 12th.
b) Evening is the latest part of the day.
Tell me the four seasons of the year!
c) It was a wonderful day (a hot summer, a warm morning, a gloomy afternoon, a glorious sunrise, etc.).
That was a restless night.
d) I’ll ring you up in a day or two.
When names of meals denote simply an occasion or process of taking food, they are used without an article in phrases and patterns, such as:
to have (take, serve, cook) dinner, breakfast, lunch, supper;
to go to (to be at) dinner, lunch, etc.;
Lunch is at two p.m.
Dinner is ready (served, laid).
What have you bought for lunch (dinner, supper)
What shall we have for supper (dinner)?
An article is used mainly when a formal meal is meant or when the notion referred to is specified or classified.
They gave a dinner (luncheon, supper) in honour of the ambassador (a kind of reception)
The dinner you cooked was beyond all expectations! It was a marvellous dinner.
Note on the use of next and last as noun premodifiers
§ 204. Nouns with these premodifiers are not preceded by any articles when counting from the moment of speaking, as in;
We’ll speak about it next time (next Friday, next month, next spring, next year):
We spoke about it last time (last Friday, last month, etc.).
The definite article occurs when the situation is viewed from some moment in the past or in the future and when the noun is modified by a specifying attributeor attributive clause.
We spent (or: we’ll spend) a week in the Crimea, and the next two weeks in the Caucasus.
The last time I saw Mary she looked a picture of health.
We shall resume our talk the next time I see you.
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