"Mañana" Syndrome

Mañana is a very well-known Spanish word. Some say it truly sums up the laid back Spanish culture (nothing is too important that it can’t wait till "tomorrow!"). Others jokingly say "the word doesn’t mean tomorrow, it simply means not today!"

Jokes aside, I am often asked the meaning of the phrase “mañana por la mañana”.  Before I answer that one, we need to rewind a little. Firstly, let’s have a look at the Spanish word for "the day" - that’s el dia.

You may be looking at that thinking "it ends in an A so why isn’t it the feminine "la dia?"  Well, that’s the first mystery. A whole day is masculine therefore el dia. Parts of the day are feminine for example mañana (morning), tarde (afternoon) and noche (evening/night) regardless of what their endings. So it’s la mañana, la tarde and la noche.

Manana - The Spanish Coach

Did you notice that mañana by itself means "tomorrow", but preceded by ‘por la’ means "in the morning."

  • To say “in the morning” we use por la mañana
  • To say “in the afternoon” we use por la tarde
  • To say “in the evening” we use por la noche

So to recap: Whole days are masculine, parts of the day are feminine. We can certainly file this under "that's just the way it is". Who thinks these thing up!

To return to our original question...

  • mañana por la mañana means tomorrow in the morning
  • mañana por la noche means tomorrow in the evening

Taking that one more step further...

  • Sábado por la tarde means Saturday afternoon
  • Domingo por la mañana means Sunday morning

Before you say it, yes I agree - there is a strange mix of rules here, but if you stick to the rules (and try to forget the logic!) it becomes a lot easier!