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I have encountered the following interesting (at least to me) fact, that in German the words tomorrow and morning have the same spelling: Morgen. I have three questions here:

  1. Do these words have the same meaning or they are just homographs?
  2. How one could say I will do something tomorrow morning?
  3. Why is this so? I mean is it due to some historical fact?
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Takkat Dec 16 '17 at 17:16
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    Also, German is not the only language that does this; compare Spanish mañana. Capital letters are of no help there. – Luke Sawczak Dec 17 '17 at 0:52
  • See also Russian завтра (tomorrow) and завтрак (breakfast, associated with morning). – dotancohen Dec 17 '17 at 16:23
  • Also in Dutch. We even have the same word for it: morgen. If we want to say tomorrow morning, we say morgenvroeg (German: morgen früh) and (in Dutch at least) that can even be until noon. – Rudy Velthuis Dec 17 '17 at 23:18
  • @dotancohen, I am Russian but I did not notice that. My life will never be the same:) – LRDPRDX Dec 18 '17 at 9:04
58

First of all, please mind your spelling:

  • The noun describing the time of the day or the future is capitalized: Der Morgen / das Morgen.
  • The adverb describing that something is happening the next day is written in lower case: morgen

Now obviously something can happen in the morning of the next day and morgen technically stretches until midnight of the following day. In such cases you add a qualifier and say

  • morgen früh (in the morning) or
  • morgen Vormittag (before noon)

Remember that a most people “start” their new day in the morning after a night’s rest. (The concept of a day starting at midnight is a relatively modern one and does not reflect how we humans instinctively perceive our time.) So der Morgen (the new day) starts morgens (in the morning) - really the same concept.


And just for completeness:

Ein Morgen used to be the area a single worker could till in one Morgen or Vormittag. It’s an unit of measurement which derived its name from the time span.

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    I think almost all languages have homographs / homophones that sound odd to the non-natives. It is very nice to see the reason behind it. – Mindwin Dec 14 '17 at 15:46
  • @Mindwin Indeed, why is the past tense of "to read" pronounced like a primary colour? – Hagen von Eitzen Dec 15 '17 at 11:27
  • @Stephie you mean mind your grammar. Spelling-wise, M is still m whether it is lowercase or uppercase. Grammar covers additional things like capitalization. – TylerH Dec 15 '17 at 19:14
  • @Stephie your answer is not incorrect, but "der Morgen" and "das Morgen", while for sure connected, are two different nouns. The latter is the nominalized adjective "morgen". So "Es gibt ein Morgen" means "There will be a future", or literally "There will be a tomorrow". – thm Dec 16 '17 at 7:44
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    @thm that’s what I said? Time of day vs. future, first bullet point? – Stephie Dec 16 '17 at 8:03
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Probably for the same reason it is in English. "Morrow" is a way of saying morning as is morgen, "tomorrow" is "the morrow" or the morning, and "the morrow" and "der morgen" are pretty much the same idiom.

Old English (and other Germanic) measurements of days centred around when the sun rose and set (and they weren't unique in this, obviously). I don't think anyone can give precise evidence as it'll be lost in the mists of time, but "on or in the next sunrise" is, then, probably a simple and intuitive way of expressing the concept of the next day.

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One is a noun "der Morgen", and one is an adverb (morgen=tomorrow).

If you want to say "tomorrow morning" you need to say something like

morgen Vormittag

or possibly (if you mean early)

morgen früh

Although technically Morgen is the time between midnight and midday, it's usually used to mean early morning

  • Specifically, it's usually used for the time after people wake up. – gerrit Dec 14 '17 at 14:27
  • "Hier spricht Radio Bremen - Beim Gongschlag ist es 16 Uhr, guten Tag, liebe Hörer, guten Morgen liebe Studenten!" – tofro Dec 19 '17 at 8:55
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It's not just German. The Spanish word mañana means exactly the same thing.

One way to think of Morgen is to say it means in the morning. If today’s morning has already passed, why then, obviously it refers to the next day.

Of course, you can always use Vormittag which means before noon.

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    Should that be "mañana"? – dhag Dec 15 '17 at 3:26
  • Thank you for the reference to another language. Very useful note. – LRDPRDX Dec 15 '17 at 6:45
  • Also colloquial Scots: to do something "the morn" is to do it tomorrow. – Widor Dec 15 '17 at 10:18
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    You will find examples from many languages. Bulgarian morning (noun) is утро (utro), tomorrow (adverb) is утре (utre). – Christian Geiselmann Dec 15 '17 at 10:48
  • Also in Afrikaans, which derives from Dutch, we would say Goeie môre, meaning Good morning, or môre meaning tomorrow. Môre oggend can mean tomorrow morning, or you could also say môre voormiddag. – PhrozenSky Dec 15 '17 at 14:02
6

Too add to the answer that Stephie provided, this pattern is seen in several languages for this same word.

In English morning was derived from morrow which has both (archaic) meanings of tomorrow and morning, and is itself related to morgen.

morrow (plural morrows)

  1. (archaic or poetic) The next or following day.
  2. (archaic) Morning.

The same thing is seen in Spanish with mañana, which again, shares the same meanings of tomorrow and morning.

mañana m, f (plural mañanas)

  1. (feminine) the morning
  2. (masculine) the near future; tomorrow
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    Your link to morgen is somewhat misleading. English morrow does not derive from German morgen, but from Old English morgen (which is cognate with German morgen, but also not derived from it), which doesn’t have an entry on Wiktionary. You might want to change the link to Proto-Germanic *murginaz, from which both the English and German words derive. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 16 '17 at 14:13
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    I changed it to related from derived. It was muy original intent, but I hadn't proof-read my answer before posting. – gmiley Dec 17 '17 at 15:55
2

"Morgen", when used to greet someone in the morning, is just short for "Guten Morgen!" which means "good morning". If used to describe the future, like "Morgen wird es regnen", (it will rain tomorrow) it means "tomorrow".

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    Unless you say "Am Morgen wird es regnen", which means again in the morning :-) – gerrit Dec 14 '17 at 14:28
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    . . . while Morgen wird es regnen means tomorrow it will rain." Gruselig, was? – 147pm Dec 14 '17 at 18:45

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