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I am a non-native speaker who is trying to learn basic Spanish. I am currently using Fluencia as my method to acquire the knowledge.

I noticed that the site sometimes offers "en la mañana" and "en las mañanas" as acceptable answers for "in the morning."

I assume that they do not create much significance. However, I am still curious to learn which one is the more common, and thus, the more "acceptable" phrase.

Thank you.

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As Pablo explains, "por la mañana" or "por las mañanas" sound more natural to Spanish speakers. The difference in meaning between them is almost non-existent except for its usage in certain contexts:

  • Por las mañanas is used to talk about habits.

  • Por la mañana can be used to both talk about habits and specific actions.

Salgo a correr por la mañana means just the same thing as Salgo a correr por las mañanas
(I run in the morning)

But:

Ayer salí a correr por la mañana cannot be reworded as Ayer salí a correr por las mañanas (Yesterday I ran in the morning) because you aren't describing a habit.

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  • Estaba pensando que por las mañanas aplicaría si tuviésemos algo así del estilo como hábito del pasado: recuerdo que corría por las mañanas. – Alejandro Jan 31 '16 at 2:27
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    @Ustanak yo creo que salía a correr por la mañana también estaría bien dicho para un hábito – SaudiBombsYemen Jan 31 '16 at 13:39
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I am from Chile, and for me, natural form is "en la mañana".

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Being from Spain, "por la mañana" sounds more natural to me. If I had to choose between "en la mañana" or "en las mañanas" I would choose "en la mañana", but I guess both would be correct, maybe one is more suitable in one context than the other. But here in Spain we say "por la mañana", maybe "en la mañana" is from Latin America, but I don't know.

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If you are talking about something that happens usually 'in the morning', it happens several days in the mornings, and so you can construct a phrase like "en las mañanas": "En las mañanas de los domingos hay mercado en la plaza". But exactly the same meaning is conveyed by "En la mañana de los domingos hay mercado en la plaza".

Otherwise, if you are talking about a single thing that happened in one morning, you have no other choice than to use the singular form: "El accidente ocurrió el día 3 en la mañana".

However, as noted by Pablo and Yay, it sounds more natural in some regions to use "por la(s) mañana(s)".

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