4

夜 - night

晩 - counter for nights

Is there a difference in time reference, i.e., is 今晩 earlier/later than 今夜?

Is there a difference in style, i.e., is one more reserved than the other?
If so, which one is more reserved?

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As a Japanese native speaker, I would say there's no difference between them.

  • なるほど。Is there a difference in the age of the words themselves? – Tim F. Jul 15 '18 at 14:43
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According to this page, both 晩 and 夜 refer to the time after sunset, but 晩 is supposed to describe the period while there is still light remaining (similar to 夕方 ) and 夜 is from when it’s become completely dark until dawn. However, they were being confused since long ago and and with words like 一晩中 (all night long) there may even be an impression that 晩 refers to a later time period than 夜.

夜とは完全に空が暗くなってから薄明かりが見えてくるまでの時間のことを指す。太陽が沈んだ後だとしても、空に明かりが残っているうちはよるという言葉を使わないのが本来の意味である。

それに対して晩は、太陽が沈んでから、空が完全に暗くなるまでの間のことを指す。つまり夕方と時間帯が被ることになる。だが、「一晩中」という言葉も存在しており、夜と晩が混同されて使われているのは昔からである。こういった言葉が存在するために、夜よりも晩の方が遅い時間帯を指しているように錯覚してしまっているともいえる。

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