"School is scary at night."
It is. の does not simply indicate possession; it links nouns (among other uses). It modifies the following noun with the preceding noun. You will often see の translated as "of", which can still make sense here to help grasp its usage, though often it ends up meaning at, in, on, by, or for, so "school at night" is one way to view it.
Note that while "night school" may seem like it a sensible translation, that would be 夜間学校 (やかんがっこう), or "nighttime school". Image searches can be quite telling in these cases. And there are other words as simple as 夜学 or 夜学校.
Here are quite a few examples: http://ejje.weblio.jp/content/%e3%81%ae
I am under the impression that に is either not commonly used or should not be used at all, depending on who is asked, with time words such as 朝 and 夜 in this manner, though plenty of examples of its use can be found. I presently lack enough exposure to feel comfortable making any conclusions myself.
If it were admissible, it would probably be a matter of nuance. I would think it more along the lines of "The school in the night is scary." It places emphasis on the location, where の emphasises the school.
While there are some time expressions that require に and some that shouldn't be used with it (and should be used adverbially), 朝、夜、夕方 seem to be okay either way. Some sources online seem to contradict each other on whether に should be used, and a native speaker I asked said both are fine.
The simplest reason is that に indicates the location that an action takes place, or a verb, and 怖い is an adjective. Scary doesn't happen at night, the night is scary.
Time + に does occur, however it is mostly with an action taking place at that specific point in time, or simply to make it a location; otherwise it’s just an abrupt transition, probably because の is often dropped if the relation is clear.
The flower bloomed at night.
One stormy night
On a sleepless night
She attends school at night.
We arrived in Japan at night.
Now, the "location" might seem confusing as it doesn't work with the Duo sentence here, but if you pay attention to the particles the relationships should become relatively clear. The more complicated answer is that the relationship of temporal nouns with に is indeed, complicated. The following site has some useful insight into it:
What we have here though with 夜の学校 is kind of a noun adjunct that by itself means "school at night". 夜の often simply means "at night", even to refer to the time of day, such as 夜の十時.
If you search for 夜の学校 online, you will encounter a lot material pertaining to scary stories taking place in schools during after-hours using this exact phrasing, so this seems at least more natural, as confusing as this construction seems to be for a beginner. Searching for 学校は夜に怖い yields almost nothing.
I'm sorry, but I don't understand. How would you say for example that "School is scary at midnight/twelve A.M."?
I thought that you would say 学校は午前零時に怖いです So I'm wrong, and it's supposed to be 午前零時の学校は怖いです?
I just want to make sure I understand correctly, so I don't learn something the wrong way....thanks for taking your time to help me by the way, I appreciate it a lot!
Don't worry, it can be a lot to grasp at first and mistakes will happen. Even in our native languages, what we are taught isn't always quite right.
「午前零時の学校は怖いです」 seems correct to me; it matches the structure of Duo's and sounds the most elegant, but 「午前零時に学校は怖いです。」 should be correct if you must use に.
These can all translate the same way, but there's a difference on what is being emphasized in Japanese, which may not sound as natural in translated context even if it might be more structurally accurate. Compare:
- School at midnight is scary.
- School is scary at midnight.
- At midnight, school is scary.
The first two match yours and Duo's structure while the third is more a match to my other example.
Both に and especially の have multiple uses and ways they can translate. The site I linked above has very good lessons for them also (and pretty much all aspects of Japanese grammar), but it isn't always the easiest to follow. From Duo's tips in Time 3:
"The particle に with a time expression indicates a specific point in time. に can also express times on a clock, days of the week, or years."
Though as we can see here, に is not always necessary for that use. You just have to get a feel for it. I believe に is more standard than の for indicating time, but I don't really know how frequency compares in actual use. I just used that as an example to reinforce the phrasing of Duo's sentence, which confuses people in other ways (that is to say, it does not mean "night school").
Thank you for sticking with me and giving me these well written and detailed explanations.
I do see why it is used this way...and I guess it means that 'my version' is 'technically' correct, but it's awkward sounding, so I shouldn't use it, and that's why it's not accepted as a right answer.
I just need to practice more and get used to it. I'll probably browse the site you sent me in detail at some point...Thank you once more!
Yes technically you can construct this grammatically but it would not be easily understood. 夜の学校へ行く rather than for example 夜中には学校へ行く isnt a grammatical issue but an issue of being understood clearly. You can say "I had a car dinner last night" and people will completely understand that you're saying "I ate dinner in the car last night" but why nominalize "car dinner" when you can just say "dinner in the car"? The popularity of this in Japanese happens to line up with english in this case; I'm not conflating this coincidence with a cross-language rule. I'm just saying this isn't common and sounds weird