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Is it proper to use the following expressions

I started to London yesterday afternoon .

I started to London yesterday morning

I ask because it is supposedly correct to say 'last night'. Why don't we say 'last afternoon' or 'last morning'?

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What alternatives are there for the afternoon of the day before today? –  Mitch Jun 3 '12 at 13:51
    
I asked this question because we don't generally say "yesterday night"; we say " last night". Correct me if I am wrong. –  vinoth Jun 3 '12 at 13:54
    
@Mitch: "the afternoon of the day before today", apparently. –  Gigili Jun 3 '12 at 13:55
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, constructions such as

  • The series will continue tomorrow evening.
  • The show closes next Wednesday night.
  • The package arrived on Christmas morning.

are quite common.

For night, it is more customary to say last night rather than yesterday night, although we do say yesterday evening, tomorrow night, Saturday night, and so on.

When the day is itself a compound, I think this compact form is less common, however. To say

We should arrive the day after tomorrow morning

sounds unnatural to me; my eyes jump to the set phrase "tomorrow morning," and then I wonder how there can be a full day after a part of a day, and then I realize I have parsed it wrongly. Better to have said

We should arrive the morning of the day after tomorrow.

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We used to used other yester- words than just -day, like yestereve, amongst others. –  tchrist Jun 4 '12 at 2:03
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The way to refer to times of day with reference to now is (if it is noon) in order (in American Emglish):

  • ...
  • yesterday (for anything before 12am 12 hours before but 'night')
  • yesterday afternoon
  • yesterday evening
  • last night (this is the weird one that doesn't follow the pattern)
  • this morning
  • today (for any time during the day we are in)
  • this afternoon
  • this evening
  • tonight
  • tomorrow morning
  • tomorrow ... (for anything starting from 12 midnight in 12 hours)
  • ...

I hesitate to say for fear that doing so puts them into people's heads, but one does not say: 'today noon' or 'today morning' or 'yesterday night' or 'this night'. These latter may be appropriate in other varieties of English, but not in AmE.

Why is this the case (why the irregularity for 'tonight' and 'last night'? That's just the way it is, people just speak that way. A logical reorganization might make it easier for EFL but it wouldn't respect the pattern that native speaker's grow up with.

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I have met "last evening", but would never use it myself, and I think it is rather old fashioned. On the other hand, "today morning" and other such seem to be current in Indian English. –  Colin Fine Jun 3 '12 at 22:49
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Yesterday afternoon is correct, but your sentences are wrong. The correct sentences are:

I started for London yesterday afternoon.

I started for London yesterday morning.

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4  
Rudra, saying "I started to London..." is not wrong, at least in the U.S. –  JLG Jun 3 '12 at 14:16
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@JLG: well,yeah, not exactly wrong, but neither particularly natural. –  Mitch Jun 3 '12 at 14:46
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@Mitch, sounds perfectly fine to me. –  JLG Jun 4 '12 at 0:07
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@JLG: O. I don't doubt that it sounds OK to you, but to me I'd say and expect to hear 'He started off to London' or 'He started to go to London'. With just plain 'I started to London' I personally feel like something is missing. –  Mitch Jun 4 '12 at 21:34
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