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上午 apparently means "morning". But I don't understand the logic of this word for two reasons:

1) Isn't the meaning of 午 "noon"? 2) With the words 早上 (early morning) and 晚上 (evening) then 上 is the second character, while in 上午 it is the second character, which always confuses me

What is the logic of the above observations?

Is there any "trick" to remember these words better?

Thanks!

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上午, 下午 has the same logic as 上週, 下週. 上 is a prefix meaning previous, before, and 上午 means before noon.

If you must assign a meaning to 上 in 早上 and 晚上, I would interpret it to be a suffix meaning at, during, in, or within. 早上/晚上 means during or in the morning/evening.

用在名詞後。表示一定的處所或範圍。(Used after a noun, indicating a specific location or [within a specific] range.)

  • 《孟子・梁惠王上》:"王坐於堂上,有牽牛而過堂下者,王見之曰:'牛何之?'"
  • 《戰國策・秦策一》:"人生世上,勢位富貴, 蓋可忽乎哉!"
  • 《醒世恒言・三孝廉讓產立高名》:"有一人姓許名武,字長文,十五歲上,父母雙亡。"
  • 巴金 《探索集・懷念老舍同志》:"在他們的心上、在他們的筆下,他至今仍然活着。"
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上 = before

下 = after

午 = noon

上午 = before noon

下午 = after noon

These are formal Chinese expressions.


早上 and 晚上 are informal expressions, and they were not accepted in Chinese until the popularity of Mandarin. The 上 suffix here is just a meaningless suffix in colloquial Mandarin. The formal expressions should be 早晨 (morning) and 夜晚 (evening).

子 and 上 are two most common meaningless suffixes in colloquial Mandarin.

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Interesting question! Time is very important!

The West has:

a.m.: ante meridiem, before noon
and
p.m.: post meridiem, after noon

(meridiem: accusative of meridies "midday, noon")

A day, divided into 2 halves, each on 1 side of noon. Observed from the point of midday, ante is what was, post is what will be. The sun waxes, the sun wanes.

Also in Chinese:

上午 = 午夜 到 中午
下午 = 中午 到 午夜

中午表示,上午已经过去,下午还没到。

上:过去的时间 下:未来的时间

‘上早’这个词不存在。‘上早’是什么意思?'earlier than early'? 午夜??
'上晚‘这个词不存在。‘上晚’是什么意思?'earlier than evening'? 午后??

The character 午 seems to be a picture of a big hammer used to husk rice. How did that come to be midday? Maybe, in ancient China, people did this at noon, so they could eat? 有人知道?

Of course, if you are a photon (光子)all this is unimportant, you are completely timeless!

  • I think author is talking about 早上 and 晚上, which are valid words, I don't know it's origin, 早上 means morning, 晚上means evening. – Rui May 11 '19 at 15:28

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