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  1. #1
    joham is offline Key Member
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    Default in the dark, in the darkness

    What's the difference between 'in the dark' and 'in the darkness'?

    All the lights went out and we were left in the dark.

    He was sitting alone in the darkness.

    Both sentences come from the OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER'S ENGLISH DICTIONARY 6th edition (dark, in). I just feel confused about them. Could you native English teachers explain to me? Thank you very much in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: in the dark, in the darkness

    "In the dark" and "in the darkness" have the same meaning in these sentences. "Darkness" is more formal.

    The only problem with "in the dark" is that it has another meaning. It can also mean completely ignorant about something, having no knowledge at all of it.

    I hope my explanation doesn't leave you in the dark!

    regards
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    What's the difference between 'in the dark' and 'in the darkness'?

    All the lights went out and we were left in the dark.

    He was sitting alone in the darkness.

    Both sentences come from the OXFORD ADVANCED LEARNER'S ENGLISH DICTIONARY 6th edition (dark, in). I just feel confused about them. Could you native English teachers explain to me? Thank you very much in advance.

  3. #3
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: in the dark, in the darkness

    Hello Joham,

    "The dark" and "darkness" both mean "absence of light". The difference lies mainly in the kind of contexts in which each is likely to appear, and is therefore very difficult to summarise. (Though another member may be able to do so.)

    But here are some characteristic examples:

    1. We were left completely in the dark. [not "darkness"]

    metaphorical: = "...in ignorance".

    2. I was sitting in the dark.

    perhaps more common with an "outdoors" reference.

    3. I was sitting in darkness.

    perhaps more common if the darkness is within a covered place.

    4. The darkness was almost tangible.

    "darkness" is presented as a substance; "the dark" might not quite be idiomatic here.

    5. The dark of the moon.

    the dark time of the moon: i.e. when there is little moonlight, around the time of the new moon.

    Best wishes,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

  4. #4
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: in the dark, in the darkness

    PS:

    Sorry, Baq, I didn't see you'd already replied!

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: in the dark, in the darkness

    No problem if two people reply on the same thread. We both have something to contribute.

    Cheers
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    PS:

    Sorry, Baq, I didn't see you'd already replied!

    MrP

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