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What's the difference between these words? Apparently they both mean "morning" but are they interchangeable?

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    Just to avoid repeating what you already know, what have you found so far? If you've looked in dictionaries and still can't figure it out, please show your research effort and include as much context as you can.
    – chocolate
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 3:09

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午{ご}前{ぜん} is used when specifying time in traditional 12-hours system (12時間制). (See also here.)

午{ご}前{ぜん}[8]{はち}時{じ} = 08:00 (in 24-hours system) = 08:00 [A.]{ante}[M.]{meridiem} (in 12-hours system)

午{ご}後{ご}[8]{はち}時{じ} = 20:00 (in 24-hours system) = 08:00 [P.]{post}[M.]{meridiem} (in 12-hours system)

Japan also has modern 24-hours system (24時制).

朝{あさ} is used for general meaning "the morning".

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  • I would like to add one thing. It is very true that '午前8時’ or '午後8時' is based on 12hr system, but, also in 24hr system, 0-12 is '午前' and 12-24 is '午後’. As you noticed, we don't say '午後15時' but '午後3時’, still '15時' is always '午後' and '3時(in 24hr system)' is '午前'.
    – MNEMO
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 2:08

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