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My native language is German, and I also speak English quite well. But there is one thing that has puzzled me for years, and I still haven't found an answer. It's about the names of times during a day. I give you a list, with rough times, the German names and the English names, and then my question:

  • 6:00 - 9:00 Ger: "Morgen", Engl: "morning"
  • 9:00 - 11:30 Ger: "Vormittag", Engl: ?
  • 11:30 - 13:30 Ger: "Mittag", Engl: "noon"
  • 13:30 - 17:30 Ger: "Nachmittag", Engl: "afternoon"
  • 17:30 - 23:00 Ger: "Abend", Engl: "evening"
  • 23:00 - 6:00 Ger: "Nacht", Engl: "night"

The absolute times may vary for +/- 2 hours or even more, so please don't take them too serious.

My question is about the period between 9:00 and 11:30. What do you call this time in English? The literal translation of the German word "Vormittag" would be "beforenoon", but that doesn't seem to be an English word. Is there another word for this time of day?

I do believe, that you call this time "morning" too. If this is true, then how do you translate this sentence:

Maria stand bereits am Morgen auf, aber Peter erst am Vormittag.

When I try to translate it, I get:

Maria already got up in the morning, but Peter only in the morning.

I think you know what I want to express without understanding the German sentence, but I also think that you agree with me, that this English sentence doesn't really tell that Maria got up early and Peter some hours later.

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    I’d call Vormittag mid-morning. Noon Is usually a specific time, but mid-day is longer—11:30 - 2:30, which encompasses overlapping lunch hours. – Xanne May 16 at 8:41
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    Mid-morning!!! – Decapitated Soul May 16 at 8:54
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    'But there is one thing that has puzzled me for years, and I haven't yet found an anwer.' // Note that 'noon' is fairly rare, especially for a period. 11:30 - 1:30 is probably most usually referred to as 'lunchtime'. – Edwin Ashworth May 16 at 9:57
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    'Maria got up early in the morning, but Peter only just before midday.' You'd have to use actual times to be more precise, but that would be true at some point in German too. [I've corrected some inaccuracies for you.] – Edwin Ashworth May 16 at 10:06
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    I would tend to agree with those suggesting alternate translations here. I'd even go so far as to translate your example to 'Maria got up early, but Peter slept in late.' as it's more idiomatic (at least where I'm from). This is a great example of why you have to translate the meaning of whole sentences, not just words or phrases, to get a good translation (not just for German to English, but in general). – Austin Hemmelgarn May 17 at 18:11
25

There is indeed no word for it other than 'late morning' or similar. Also, 'lunchtime' would be more idiomatic than 'noon' for the period round midday (or, I suppose, 'dinnertime' for those who always call their midday meal 'dinner', but that's another story).

I don't speak German, but your sentence would have to be translated as something like:

Maria had been up early, but Peter didn't get up till late.

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  • 13
    I don't think "lunchtime" really works. I'm something of a night owl, s for me lunchtime is generally around 2-3 pm. – jamesqf May 16 at 16:44
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    Lunchtime is downright confusing, so I suggest not using it in formal speech or writing. I have no idea when you eat lunch. Perhaps in your locale everyone says that to mean noontime? – piojo May 18 at 3:09
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    But in English "noon" actually means 12pm. Not 11:30-13:30pm. IE it is always a specific time, not a period of time, rather like "midnight". – abligh May 18 at 5:20
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    "Mid-day" would work for the times around noon. – Barmar May 18 at 5:38
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    @piojo, lunchtime is culture-relative, but, within a given culture, the term is not at all confusing. In most English-speaking cultures, people customarily eat lunch within the 11:30-1:30 period, which makes it possible for lunchtime to serve as an idiomatic way of referring to that part of the day, as long as the context is culture-bound. As the word normally refers to the time when people in the given culture customarily eat lunch, it is not rendered confusing by the fact that some people may choose to eat it at unusual times. – jsw29 May 18 at 16:01
23

In everyday speech the time of the day you are referring to is called:

midmorning or (mid-morning):

the middle of the morning; the time centering around the midpoint between early morning and noon.

(Collins)

A few usage examples:

From washingtonpost.com

For most people, mid-morning is one of the busiest parts of the workday.

From huffpost.com:

Low-Calorie Mid-Morning Snacks To Eat Before Lunch

From food.ndtv.com

Mid-Morning Work Breaks Improve Health and Productivity

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  • 6
    I'd put midmorning at say 9 - 10:30, then late morning till 11:30 say. – Edwin Ashworth May 16 at 10:00
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    I would add that as a native English speaker in the United States I have never used midmorning. I would understand it if read or heard, but it would sound strange. – Joe May 16 at 23:00
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft - the term midmorning is present in all dictionaries google.com/… and according to Google Books it is not that uncommon - books.google.com/ngrams/… – user121863 May 17 at 5:20
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    If you add the results for mid-morning and midmorning, Google NGram shows that it has been commoner than late morning for decades. In AmE as well as BrE. – Rosie F May 17 at 7:32
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    While mid-morning is quite common, it's exact time is unclear. It usually refers to a time between waking up and noon. I've seen "early-risers" (who get up around 5am) call 9 mid-morning; while people who get up around 8am are more likely to refer to 11am. It's an accurate term, but very fluid and relative. – Binyomin May 17 at 17:02
14

I think it's futile to try to find a one-to-one translation from German to English. Just because German has Vormittag doesn't mean English should have an exact counterpart, which I don't think it does.

None of the English expressions such as mid-morning, forenoon, late morning is an exact counterpart of Vormittag.

In fact, Wiktionary defines it as all of the three:

Vormittag

  1. mid-morning, late morning, forenoon (time of day roughly between 9 a.m. and noon)

I think late morning is the closest but it can be entirely subjective depending on who you're asking when late morning starts.

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7

6:00 - 9:00

Morn: 1.a. Chiefly (from late ME onwards) poetic. The beginning of the day; dawn, sunrise. Frequently personified. Also figurative.

OE Beowulf 1077 Syþðan morgen com.

1874 T. Hardy Far from Madding Crowd I. v. 57 In the solemn calm of the awakening morn that note was heard by Gabriel, beating with unusual violence and rapidity.

1912 R. Brooke in Basileon June 3/2 And there the dews Are soft beneath a morn of gold.

09:00 - 12:00

Forenoon, n. 1. The portion of the day before noon.

1582 N. Lichefield tr. F. L. de Castanheda 1st Bk. Hist. Discouerie E. Indias iii. 10 At tenne of the Clocke in the fore noone.

1727 A. Hamilton New Acct. E. Indies II. xxxiii. 12 The Fore-noons being dedicated to Business.

1872 W. Black Strange Adventures Phaeton xxvi. 352 He begged us to start for our forenoon's walk.

NB It is worth noting that "forenoon" somewhat archaic and is rarely used to indicate a very early hour.

All from OED.

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    Forenoon is still in regular usage as one of the Royal Navy's watches which the day is divided into: Middle (midnight–4 am), Morning (4–8 am), Forenoon (8 am–noon), Afternoon (noon–4 pm), Dog watch (4–8 pm; often split into two), First (8 pm–midnight). But it wouldn't be understood by a speaker who hadn't heard that usage. – dbmag9 May 16 at 20:18
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    NB It is also worth noting that "morn" is archaic. So this post it not very useful for a non-native speaker. – TonyK May 17 at 11:15
  • @TonyK are you calling Blackadder archaic?! 😱 – 0xC0000022L May 18 at 15:16
1

To answer an implication rather than your main question (and to head off some misleading information elsewhere in this thread*), the time around noon is called "noontime", not "lunchtime". "Lunchtime" or "dinnertime" will be confusing to a significant amount of people. Would you expect that dinner time means 6? What is breakfast time?

Other people mentioned "midday", which to my ears is even more commonly used, but is a wider time range, such as 11:00-14:00.

* Lunchtime is appropriate when speaking to someone that eats at the same time as you, but it may refer to a different time than noontime.

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    'Lunchtime' is given in every dictionary I've checked in, whether US- or UK-usage orientated, as meaning 'the time when people normally eat their lunch'. Theese Google 1-grams support my view that 'noontime' is used a lot less than 'lunchtime'. Most people are aware that most people regard lunch as a midday meal. – Edwin Ashworth May 18 at 14:44
  • @EdwinAshworth Agreed, but lunchtime isn't a clock time. It may have an agreed upon meaning, but it does not have an agreed upon time. I bet none of those dictionaries said it means the time around 12:00-13:00, for instance. The OP seemed to be asking about clock times. – piojo May 19 at 2:51
  • ' ... the time around noon is called "noontime", not "lunchtime" ' is wrong. The time around noon is often called 'lunchtime' ... more often, I'd wager, than it is called 'noontime' (and the Ngrams strongly suggest this is true). – Edwin Ashworth May 19 at 11:23
  • @EdwinAshworth You keep asserting that lunchtime =~ noon-ish, but do you have any evidence? I recognize that coming up with good evidence is tricky, because obviously lunchtime is noon for some people, just as it is unambiguously 2:30 at my company. – piojo May 19 at 16:09
  • Firstly, you claimed the opposite, without any evidence, and put it in an answer. I could say it's up to you to prove your assertion. However, 'Lunchtime is the period of the day when people have their lunch.... Synonyms: dinnertime, noon, midday' [CollinsCoBuild] // lunchtime noun [C or U] US ... / UK ... // A2 the time in the middle of the day when most people eat a meal [CED] /// M-W ... – Edwin Ashworth May 19 at 16:46
1

Assuming sunrise is at 7.00 a.m.

the early hours of the morning (the early hours): between midnight and 7.00 a.m. when the sun rises.

early-morning (early): between about 7.00 and 9.00 a.m.

mid-morning: between about 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. (the midpoint between sunrise and noon).

n.b. noon is twelve o'clock in the middle of the day; a precise time, not a period of time.

late morning (late): between about 10.00 a.m. and noon.

Translating, “Maria stand bereits am Morgen auf, aber Peter erst am Vormittag.”

If Maria got up before sunrise, and Peter between about 9.00 a.m and 10.00: “Maria got up in the early hours, but Peter only mid-morning.”

If Maria got up before sunrise, and Peter between about 10.00 a.m. and noon: “Maria got up in the early hours, but Peter only late morning.”

If Maria got up between about 7.00 a.m. and 9.00, and Peter between 9.00 a.m. and 10.00: “Maria got up early, but Peter only mid-morning.”

If Maria got up between about 7.00 a.m. and 9.00, and Peter between 10.00 a.m. and noon: “Maria got up early, but Peter only late morning.”

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-3

Can we agree to"prenoon", just like S. L. Copper would call it: https://youtu.be/vUflhSDbyws

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