Difference between ‘in the night’ and ‘at night’

Ever been in a situation where both ‘in the night’ and ‘at night’ seemed correct but you knew only one of them was appropriate? Or you knew which of them to use but couldn’t say why? Well, we’ve all been there at some point.

For the record, ‘night’ in this context is the dark part of every 24-hour period.

Now, this is the simple answer we’ve tried to figure out:

In the night

We use ‘in the night’ when we refer to a particular point during the night—a short time, not throughout the night.

Examples:

  1. He called me three times in the night just to make sure I was fine.
  2. He let out a terrifying scream in the night.
  3. We didn’t know what to do, so we decided to tell him in the night.
  4. I watched two episodes of Strike Back in the night.

At night

This is the expression we use when we talk about something that happens all of the night, not for a short time.

Examples:

  1. He slept during the day and guarded the castle at night.
  2. Can the sun replace the moon at night?
  3. I usually study at night when my exams are only two days away.
  4. How difficult is it to sleep at night?

To recap, ‘in the night’ means ‘only for a short time during the night’, while ‘at night’ means ‘throughout the night’.

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