1

I know that it's redundant to say things like "8:00 A.M. in the morning" or "6:00 P.M. at night." But what if you want to specify that you're talking about a specific night, such as last night? For example:

We met them at the airport at 10:00 P.M. last night.

Would this sentence be redundant? It seems strange to have both "P.M." and "night," but leaving out "last night" would change the meaning of the sentence, since it would no longer make clear what day this occurred.

  • 3
    We met them at ten o'clock last night. – Mari-Lou A May 11 '15 at 18:47
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    We met them at the airport yesterday at 10:00 p.m. – Ireth Tasartir May 11 '15 at 18:48
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    OR We met them at ten last night (at the airport). – Mari-Lou A May 11 '15 at 18:50
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    @Nicole: I wouldn't judge anyone for saying "10 pm last night". But you could say "last night at 10". – Tushar Raj May 11 '15 at 20:13
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    @jxh Although it's quite common among Italian speakers e.g. "le ore ventidue", no native English speaker (who isn't in the military) says the time using the 24 hour clock e.g: "We met them at twenty-two hundred hours" this is accurate, and unambiguous, but it's not idiomatic. – Mari-Lou A May 11 '15 at 20:46
5

Certainly there are ways of phrasing it (as evidenced in the comments) that eliminate any perceived redundancy with "p.m." and "night" both being present, but this sort of phrasing would be fairly common in ordinary conversation as people construct a sentence "on the fly", adding the relevant bits as it occurs to them.
Indeed, even "10 a.m. this morning", despite its obvious redundancy, would be a very common utterance from someone who, after giving the time of an event, decided that they wanted to also specify the day.

  • 1
    Good answer. One of the most succinct ways to convey the information is to say "We met them at the airport at 10:00 p.m. yesterday." But in the comments beneath the original post, no one has suggested that wording; and the reason, I think, is related to the reason people fall into the redundancy of "10 p.m. last night"—namely, that to a hearer "yesterday" (or "last night") at the end of the sentence makes a much bigger impression than "p.m." does one word earlier. Even though "10 p.m." clearly signifies "night," the "yesterday" is somehow unnerving. "Did he say "10 a.m. or 10 p.m. yesterday?" – Sven Yargs May 12 '15 at 5:01
2

Just a minor additional thing; it's less true in the given example given but there are times of day where this would clear up some ambiguity:

  • "4am this morning" implies that I got up very early
  • "4am last night" implies that I stayed up very late

10pm is of course less ambiguous, but there's still a small amount of implied meaning:

  • "I worked until 10pm last night" - I saw 10pm as part of my "night". A listener might imagine I was then ready to go straight to sleep
  • "I worked until 10pm yesterday evening" - I saw 10pm as part of my "evening". A listener might imagine I had an hour or two doing other activities before going to sleep

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