What can I say about a thing happened at night? Someone stole my phone at night. OR Someone stole my phone in the night. Which one is right to say?

  • 2
    The stars come out at night. My phone was stolen in the night. Aug 22, 2020 at 7:53

2 Answers 2


At (= when it is/was) night (= night-time)

*"At the night" is not idiomatic.

In (= during) {the night} (= (i) the current night; tonight (ii) the night that has just past, or (iii) night-time.)

(i) "After you go to bed, you may hear a noise in the night"

(ii) At breakfast he said "Did anyone hear noises in the night?"

(iii) The noises are caused by wolves - they come out in the night."

  • "At the night" isn't idiomatic, but the question asked about "at night", which is. (eg. "Your teeth are like stars : they come out at night".) Aug 22, 2020 at 9:27
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    "At the night" isn't idiomatic, but the question asked about "at night" I am aware of this but it is useful to point out the use of the definite article in "in the night" and the lack in "at night." The uncountable use, makes a difference.
    – Greybeard
    Aug 22, 2020 at 10:05
  • Fair enough. I see what you meant now. Just for the hell of it, though, have you tried "at night" in examples (i) and (iii)? Aug 22, 2020 at 10:11
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere IMO only in (iii) and in this case "at night" is better and shows the difference in usage. Aug 22, 2020 at 12:11

"In the night" refers to a specific night - most native English speakers are likely to assume it happened during the most recent night, unless you tell them otherwise.

"At night" is more generic, and could refer to something that's happened, or will happen, on several occasions (see Weather Vane's comment).

In the case of a single instance of phone theft, you could use "at night" if you wanted to make the point that it wasn't taken during the day, but were less concerned about which night it was taken. In cases of theft, it's often more important to establish specifically when something happened, but if there had been a series of thefts on different nights, always during the hours of darkness, "at night" would be the most useful phrase. (You could also say "in the night", but people are likely to ask "which night?".)

If someone stole your phone last night, "in the night" would be the usual form.

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