Ieri sera vs scorsa notte?

I came across these to both mean "last night". Are they used the same? Is there a shade of difference? Can you mix and match the adjectives interchangeably?

September 13, 2018

  • Ieri sera. = Yesterday evening.

This refers to the time of the day mentioned by Dingo, roughly between sunset and 10 or 11 pm of the previous day.

  • Ieri notte. = (literally) Yesterday night.

This can be deceptive, because in Italian ieri notte refers to the time between 11 pm or midnight of the previous day and 5 pm of the day on which the expression is spoken.
Instead, "yesterday night", besides not being as common as ieri notte, overlaps the latter half of "yesterday evening".

  • La scorsa notte. = Last night.

In Italian, this is a synonym of ieri notte, whereas in English "last night" can stretch a few hours further back in time, e.g. from 10 pm to dawn.
The definite article is mandatory in using this expression (scorsa notte alone is wrong).

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September 14, 2018

I don't think I've seen the term "scorsa notte," but "ieri sera" probably refers to the evening (i.e. from around sunset to ~10 o'clock or when one is awake at night), while "scorsa notte" refers to the actual night, as in when one is sleeping, judging by other ways Italian uses the two words (i.e. stasera vs stanotte).

September 13, 2018


September 15, 2018
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