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According to my desk clock, it is now Monday, 1:00 a.m.

I wish to mention in an e-mail preparations for a storm which is expected to arrive Monday around 8:00 p.m., that is, 19 hours from now.

The storm is not expected to come "tonight": rather, it is expected to come the following night. The storm is not expected to come "tomorrow night", either: that would be Tuesday night, whereas the storm is expected to come Monday night.

What is the least awkward way to refer to the night in question? Have I discovered a lexical gap? If I have, then why does this gap exist: why has no one bothered to fill it?

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    If it is 1:00 a.m. then it is morning and "tonight" would be technically correct. When this is potentially confusing, just specify the day "Monday night". Unlike many other languages, there is no single word for "the day after tomorrow" or "the day before yesterday", so we have little choice but to be specific about the day or to use more words to describe it.
    – Kimbi
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 6:24
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    @Kimbi "Tonight" is, unless I am mistaken, the night currently in progress (i.e. "Sunday night"), which will continue for several more hours until at least dawn. Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 6:28
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    The 'small hours' of Monday morning can be regarded as still part of Sunday night in some contexts, but not all. The only way to make it clear is to say "The storm is expected tonight (Monday)". Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 8:36
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    It is potentially ambiguous: at 1 am Monday it's common to say "tomorrow" meaning Monday if none of you have gone to bed/sleep yet: "tomorrow" often refers to the time after you next sleep, and "tomorrow night" works the same. Often it's clear from context what is meant, but if you're giving weather alerts you need to be unambiguous.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 9:27
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    "Nineteen hours from now" is fine, if the date and time of the message are clear. You can also say "8 p.m. Monday, March 1", or "Monday evening at 8 p.m." Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 13:42

4 Answers 4

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According to my desk clock, it is now Monday, 1:00 a.m. I wish to mention a storm which is expected to arrive Monday around 8:00 p.m., that is, 19 hours from now.

“There will be a storm this evening.” / “There will be a storm at around eight this evening.”

OED

Evening:

A. n.1

1.a. The close of day, esp. the time from about 6 p.m., or sunset if earlier, to bedtime; the period between afternoon and night.

1872 J. Morley Voltaire iii. 104 People met..at the supper at nine in the evening.

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  • This is what I ended up using. Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 5:26
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Choose the answers-in-comments that fits your requirements:

The 'small hours' of Monday morning can be regarded as still part of Sunday night in some contexts, but not all. The only way to make it clear is to say "The storm is expected tonight (Monday)". – Kate Bunting

It is potentially ambiguous: at 1 am Monday it's common to say "tomorrow" meaning Monday if none of you have gone to bed/sleep yet: "tomorrow" often refers to the time after you next sleep, and "tomorrow night" works the same. Often it's clear from context what is meant, but if you're giving weather alerts you need to be unambiguous. – Stuart F

Once you decide that 1 PM is no longer tonight, then Monday night is tomorrow night. "The storm is not expected tonight." – Yosef Baskin

My answer is the same as the OP's: "a storm is expected to arrive Monday around 8:00 p.m., that is, 19 hours from now." Nothing is clearer than that.

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    This should probably be a community wiki, I think. Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 21:22
  • None of these is unambiguous without additional information.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 22:16
  • @Dan, what exactly is the ambiguity in 'The storm is expected tonight (Monday)'?
    – jsw29
    Commented Feb 28, 2023 at 16:04
  • @jsw29 - only what has already been said... If you say at 1am on Monday that "The storm is expected tonight" it is not clear whether you mean the night remaining til dawn or the night of the following daytime. For what it's worth, I would assume the storm was due before dawn.
    – Dan
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 12:31
  • @Dan, the wording recommended by Ms. Bunting includes the word Monday, which removes the ambiguity.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 16:18
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One can debate which term is technically correct, but obviously, given the existence of such a debate, many listeners would find either choice ambiguous.

The easiest approach would just be to say that the storm will arrive after nightfall. This is unambiguous, because it makes it clear that the storm will arrive after a new night has begun, rather than during the night that is happening now.

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While "tonight" may sometimes be ambiguous in the middle of the night, very often context will make it clear whether you mean the current night in progress or the upcoming night.

For instance, if you say:

There's a storm coming tonight, I'm going to board up the windows in the morning.

it's obvious that you mean Monday night, not sometime around now. But if you say:

There's a storm coming tonight, we'd better get off the road as soon as possible.

you presumably mean the current night. Of course, you could also just say "coming soon" in this case, there's no need to specify the period of the day.

Also, if you say "later tonight", it usually means the current night.

On the other hand, "tomorrow night" will almost always be confusing if you use it in the early morning, and I don't think there are any contextual disambiguations. Just say "Monday night" or "Tuesday night" to avoid the problem.

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