It would be something like "the baby was born at midnight, she cried until (the) dawn". I believe the more natural way of saying that would be without the "the", just "she cried until dawn", but I want to know if it would be icorrect, if desired, to say "she cried until the dawn". Also whether or not "until next dawn" sound weird in that context.

2 Answers 2


Other daily events share the same dichotomous relationship with the definite article e.g. dusk, nightfall, evening, morning, afternoon.

Generally if the word is being used as a time marker it does not normally take the article e.g.They danced until dawn; or The mood will have changed come evening.

However if the time of day is the subject, object or part of a dependent clause, the article is more often used e.g. The evening was a great success; At the conference the morning was more interesting than the afternoon. or What I was told, during the afternoon, was contrary to what I had heard the previous evening.

This is not the end of the story, and others will undoubtedly add further elaboration and nuance to what I have said.

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    Thumbs up. The rule is, "The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular". "the baby was born at midnight, she cried until (the) dawn" doesn't specify a particular midnight nor a particular dawn so no "the". Nov 21, 2018 at 23:01
  • @MikeJRamsey56 Yes. That's a better way of putting it. Why don't you submit that as an answer.
    – WS2
    Nov 22, 2018 at 10:21
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    @MikeJRamsey56 On the other hand, Before the Dawn is both an album and a band, and The Hour before the Dawn is not the same as The Hour before Dawn. With dawn specifically, the definite article doesn’t need to refer to a specific dawn – it can just be a somewhat more poetic version with no real difference in meaning. Nov 22, 2018 at 10:36
  • "The Hour Before the Dawn" is also a 1944 movie directed by Frank Tuttle. The title implies a specific dawn leading one to ask, "The dawn of what?" BTW, not a good movie. Nov 26, 2018 at 23:03
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    @WS2 I liked your answer so it got my vote. Nov 26, 2018 at 23:04

It depends on what you mean by incorrect. If you mean is that structure of words a grammatically correct sentence in English, then, yes, it is. If you mean is that what any native speaker would ever say, then it has to be 'until dawn', as you believe, unless the poor child cried until dawn the next day, in which case you would need to specify which dawn you are talking about.

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