15

I would like to understand if these two words

Morgen
Vormittag

are actually perfectly equivalent or if they differ in some way.
Given that I know that morgen also means tomorrow.

  • 3
    Be aware that the noun "Morgen" and the adverb "morgen" are actually two different words. Besides, "der Morgen" has indeed several meanings, and there's also "das Morgen". – Em1 Aug 27 '15 at 17:52
  • 2
    Related: What time does “Vormittag” start and end? – Loong Aug 27 '15 at 18:34
  • The answer is a plain “no”, since Morgen always starts earlier than Vormittag despite all regional and individual differences. Some may remember the Storck/Knoppers ad slogan “Morgens, Halb Zehn in Deutschland” which was intended to mark the time for second breakfast. After that first work / school break it’s definitely Vormittag and Morgen no more, but the time will not be 09:30 everywhere and for everyone. – Crissov Aug 30 '15 at 19:47
8

I was tempted to close this question as off-topic for being general reference, but I realized that the definitions provided by Wiktionary and Duden are kinda different.

Wiktionary: Tageszeit zwischen Nacht und Vormittag
Duden: Tageszeit um das Hellwerden nach der Nacht; früher Vormittag

Wiktionary says that Morgen is the time between night and Vormittag. Duden includes the early Vormittag as part of the Morgen.

Interestingly enough, both sources agree when it comes to the definition of Vormittag:

Wiktionary: Die Zeit zwischen dem Morgen und dem Mittag Duden: Zeit zwischen Morgen und Mittag

My personal view is that Morgen does not include Vormittag.

That leaves us with the question when is the Morgen over, and when does the Vormittag starts?
Well, you can't really answer this question. Opinions differ. But around 10 o'clock is a good approximation.

More about Vormittag on Wikipedia (in German). And here's the entry for Morgen (also in German).

  • 2
    Just to add a fact about Variations of German language: In Austria there is another noun for »der Morgen«. It is »die Früh«, but you can't use die Früh the same way as der Morgen. »Am Morgen« is »in der Früh« in Austria. Other uses of the noun Früh are very rare. Constructions that would make it necessary to use Morgen in a way where it can't be replaced by »in der Früh« will be avoided. Austrians try to find a construction where the noun »Morgen« can be replaced by the phrase »in der Früh«. (What is said about Austria might be true for other regions too) – Hubert Schölnast Aug 27 '15 at 20:57
  • @HubertSchölnast It is for Southern Bavaria at least. – Jan Sep 12 '15 at 9:19
10

This is an issue that frequently crops up when Germans interact with non-natives.

English speakers will usually say or begin their emails with "Good morning" until noon. If they promise to so something "tomorrow morning" without specifying the precise time, it's usually understood that they will do so sometime before noon.
Morning is from getting up until noon, basically.

Not so in German.

"Guten Morgen" usually is used as a greeting from the moment of getting up until about 10 a.m. (note, however, that due to varying working hours etc. this may vary considerably). After that, Germans use their preferred daytime greeting.
Vormittag is not used as a greeting.

When Germans say that they'll call you "am Morgen", you can reasonably expect a call by about 9 a.m. When they say "am Vormittag", it can be anytime before noon.

Note that this is an approximation, since there are no official rules on this. Also, timespans may overlap.
To break it down to the common denominator:

Morgen is the time after getting up and the first part of a normal workday.
Vormittag is the time before noon.

It's the mirror image of what happens once noon is over: There's some time to kill until evening - and that time is usually called afternoon - Nachmittag in German. The cusp between Nachmittag and Abend is more or less the same as in English.

  • It should be noted, that in some dialects such as Swabian, "Morgen" does indeed denote the whole time till noon, and "Mittag" is the whole time from noon till 5 or 6 PM ... at which time the "Nachtessen" (supper/evening meal) might be served already. – O. R. Mapper Aug 28 '15 at 12:42
1

IMHO, the difference is explained best by stating that you eat breakfast morgens and eat brunch vormittags.

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