"It is late in the evening."
Translation:C'est tard dans la soirée.
"soir" is a "division word", which indicates a simple amount of time, or division of time:
- ex: "un soir"-"one evening" or "ce soir"-"this evening"
"soirée" is "duration word", that indicates a duration:
- ex: "pendant toute la soirée"-"during all the evening" or "la soirée est ennuyeuse"-"the evening is boring".
So you have to say:
- "C'est tard le soir"
- "C'est tard dans la soirée"
In French, there is a difference between "soir" and "soirée"; see:
"soir" indicates a simple amount of time or division of time ("division word").
"soirée" indicates a duration of time, usually stressing the actual length of time ("duration words")
That is why the correct translations for "late in the evening" are:
"tard le soir"
"tard dans la soirée" (there, you can use the preposition "dans", since the event happens within a certain duration).
About.com says...use il est for unmodified adverbs, use c'est for modified adverbs. An example of the rule is copied and pasted directly from their page to here. Il est tard.
C'est tard is an unmodified adverb. According to about.com it should be il est tard. So I am wondering what you mean by ...il est tard is not the formal way of saying it. Do you mean it is not the correct way? If so, what is different about this use?
My concern is with the requirement for c'est tard rather than il est tard. The only reference to c'est/il est that Remy made was to say that il est tard is an idiomatic expression meaning it is late.
So I'm still wondering why il est tard le soir was not accepted in favor of c'est tard le soir.
I am still trying to get a handle on what you are saying. The following is from About.com.
Il est facile d'apprendre le français. It's easy to learn French.
C'est une fille sympa, Lise. Lise? She's a nice girl.
The following is from Remy's comment that you referenced.
"Il est tard" is an idiomatic phrase to say "it is late".
Looking through About.coms treatment of c'est vs il est, there is much coverage of rules that govern the appropriate choice between the two phrases.
I saw nothing about it being in the nature of things that il est will function as it is in only a very few phrases. Or that c'est will seldom mean anything besides it is.
The rule/example that About.com gives in this situation, on when to use the il est form, on the c'est vs. il page is explicitly:
Unmodified adverb.....Il est tard.........(It's late.)
So I am still at a loss as to why il est tard le soir is obviously incorrect.