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Times & parts of the day with prepositions in French (dawn, noon, dusk…)

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Are you looking for a handy list to help you learn the parts of the day in French? Look no further, you’ve found it! Early morning, sunrise, dawn, late afternoon, sunset, dusk… We have everything you’ll need, both as a noun and as an adverb of time (a.k.a. a time of day outfitted with a preposition, like à l’aube – “at dawn”).

And if you’re a visual learner, all you have to do is click here to check out our Colorful Visual Aid for Times of the Day. It’s a “French study material meets eye candy” type of situation.

Parts of the day in French: nouns

the early morningle petit matin, le début de la matinée, les premières heures du matin
the sunrisele lever du soleil
the dawnl’aube (f)
the late morningla fin de matinée
noon(le) midi
the afternoonl’après-midi (m/f)
the late afternoonla fin d’après-midi
the early eveningle début de soirée
the sunsetle (soleil) couchant, la tombée du jour
the duskle crépuscule
the eveningle soir (a moment in time), la soirée (a duration)
the late eveningla fin de soirée
the nightla nuit
midnight(le) minuit

Is there a difference between soir and soirée in French?

This is a question that keeps coming up, and for good reason. At first glance, these two words seem to describe the same thing. You’re right to have some doubts, though: there’s a slight difference in usage that you should take into account.

Soir means a certain point in the day (the evening). In contrast, soirée is used to emphasize the evening time period – basically starting from sunset and ending at night (when people start turning in), so approximately from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m., depending on the time of the year.

(Note: it’s worth keeping in mind that the French word soirée has multiple meanings. Besides “evening”, it can signify an “evening party” or a “reception”, too.)

Is there a difference between matin and matinée?

The same thing is true for matin and matinée. Matin signifies an exact time point during the day (the morning); if you use matinée, you emphasize the duration of the morning period starting from about dawn to noon.

It’s arguably not a huge difference, but it’s still worth knowing!

Parts of the day with prepositions in French: Adverbs of time

in the early morningau petit matin, en début de la matinée, durant les premières heures du matin, tôt le matin
at sunriseau lever du soleil
at dawnà l’aube
in the late morningen fin de matinée
at noonà midi
in the afternoonl’après-midi, dans l’après-midi
in the late afternoonen fin d’après-midi
in the early eveningen début de soirée
at sunsetau (soleil) couchant, à la tombée du jour
at duskau crépuscule
in the eveningle soir, dans la soirée, pendant la soirée (emphasis on period)
in the late eveningen fin de soirée
at night(pendant) la nuit
at midnightà minuit

Parts of the day + prepositions: eye candy edition

Because colors.

Thanks for reading! If you’re also interested in learning months and seasons in French, don’t hesitate to check out this article. You’ll never have any problems with prepositions ever again.

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