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I've come across several forums online detailing that 「今朝」 sounds either very formal or old-fashioned in that it is not used too often nowadays. However, it is also the one I see most commonly used in newspaper articles and the such.

Meanwhile, in the case of 「今日の朝」 or 「今日朝」, it more directly reflects the other structures we use in Japanese class, such as 「土曜日の朝」 and 「今夜」.

So, which of the two (or three, if you include 「今日朝」) sounds more natural in everyday speech?

  • how do you read 今日朝? It does not seem to be listed in dictionaries. – Igor Skochinsky Jun 4 '18 at 19:41
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    I think they mean きょうあさ, which could also be written 「今日、朝」. – Earthliŋ Jun 5 '18 at 9:50
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I think in spoken language 今朝 is perfectly acceptable and certainly not less natural than 今日の朝. 今日の朝 may be more colloquial than 今朝, but saying that 今朝 is "very formal" or "old-fashioned" seems to be taking it too far.

It might be a little far-fetched, but I think this is also reflected in corpus data such as 少納言. Even though it is a corpus of written Japanese, it does contain data from two online sites, namely Yahoo!知恵袋 and Yahoo!ブログ, where people are more likely to write as they speak.

Indeed, 50 out of 60 instances of 今日の朝 come from Yahoo!知恵袋 or Yahoo!ブログ. The remaining 10 instances come from books, at least 5 of which are direct speech!

今日の朝

  50 online forum / blogs
   5 books (prose) (?)
   5 books (direct speech)

(I disregarded false positives such as 今日の朝日新聞, etc.)

As is to be expected from a corpus about written language, these are heavily outweighed by instances of 今朝:

今朝

1767 online forum / blogs
 832 books

However, these numbers seem to suggest that 今日の朝 is more colloquial than 今朝, since books only use 今日の朝 0.6% of the time (in prose), whereas on online forum / blogs 2.8% of the time.

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今朝{けさ} for “this morning” is more frequently used. I don’t think it’s more or less formal (both are acceptable). 今日{きょう}の朝{あさ} for “today’s morning” would be understood but it’s not so commonly used. In casual speech の is sometimes omitted (especially to avoid repetition) so 今日の朝 and 今日朝 are interchangeable.

However, 今日{きょう} is widely used for “today” (lit. this day) and 朝{あさ} does carry the meaning of morning in words such as 朝{あさ}ご飯{はん} or 朝食{ちょうしょく} for “breakfast”. Thus I think it is important to learn the common readings of kanji such as 朝.

The の form is used for other cases such as 明日の朝 “tomorrow morning” and 来週の月曜日 “Monday next week”. I’d use 今朝 for “morning” but this is an irregular exception to how time is usually described.

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