I oftentimes see people using both forms in their speech but never knew whether or not they are merely colloquialisms/preferences or if they are actually grammatically sound or not. :

Я сегодня с утра проснулся примерно без пятнадцати/четверти три.

Я сегодня утром проснулся примерно без пятнадцати/четверти три.

Я пошла́ в зал с утра́.

Я пошла́ в зал сегодня у́тром.

Я сегодня с утра пошла́ в зал.

Я сегодня с утра пошла́ в зал.

Я пошла́ в зал у́тром.


If the phrase should mean "in the morning", than both "утром" and "с утра" are OK, while the latest one is more colloquial.

But "с утра" can also mean "since the morning", and in this case you can't use "утром".

And the word order depends on which part of the sentence you want to emphasize. All the sentences in the question are grammatical and their basic idea is the same.

  • 1
    Thank you very much! Could I say, then, "Ну вот, я с утра те звонил! Где ты была?" Oct 10 '16 at 14:46
  • yes, most definitely you can Oct 10 '16 at 14:47
  • I greatly appreciate your comments and input. Oct 10 '16 at 14:50
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    @Штефан, "Ну вот, я с утра те звонил! Где ты была?" implies that you called her in the morning. If you want to say that you called her many times since the morning up to current moment, than you have to use "звоню" instead of "звонил".
    – Lara
    Oct 10 '16 at 14:59

with проснуться it sounds odd, because when else one usually wakes up if not in the morning? unless it's known that the person was supposed to wake up much later, but surprisingly did so earlier

in other cases с утра helps the speaker to make a point that action was performed specifically in the morning, which may not be a trivial task for many people due to sleepiness, that a person took care to do it in the morning and feels good about themselves (or approve others) because of that

  • Thank you very much. I always wonder about the placement of it in the sentence as well in regard to word order in terms of their importance. The subject + verb + object word order seems "off" to me because it isn't often the case with other slavic languages so I accidentally "Serbify" sentences and sound strange. Oct 10 '16 at 14:44
  • the placement would be close to the verb either before or after it, but your examples look fine Oct 10 '16 at 14:54
  • there's a great word cпозаранку, meaning very early in the morning, the etymology is best understood if the word is analyzed as a Ukrainian one, although it's not Ukranian, so i suspect in the sense you ask about the phrase c утра is a folksy way of saying cпозаранку, there's another very colloquial and folksy form с утрячка Oct 10 '16 at 15:09

When one is marking some action or event with c утра he/she wants to emphasize the fact that this happened as early as at morning. When one is using утром, he's just pointing at the specific timeframe.

That said, in some cases they are more or less interchangeable, like:

  • Я сегодня с утра пошла в зал.
  • Я сегодня утром пошла в зал.

While in other cases they are not:

  • Слушай, я не пойду вечером в кино. Я [аж] с [самого] утра на работе и очень устала.
  • Учти, ты с [самого] утра должен быть выспавшимся.

Also, "проснуться с утра" just does not sound right to a native speaker at all.

  • Thank you! I have the problem of trying to translate things quite literally and things do not seem to translate the same in Russian as they would in other similar languages. Oct 10 '16 at 15:00
  • @Штефан just like in any language - it's better not to rely on analogies in native language rather than just memoize some use cases )
    – shabunc
    Oct 10 '16 at 15:01
  • I thought that I had verbs of motion down pat after going through some textbooks from MGU but their nuances are rather complex and killing me! The other problem that I have had is that people oftentimes correct their preferences, rather than actual mistakes. If I ever question them, I run the risk of offending them and not having them as a resource so the situation can be quite touchy. Oct 10 '16 at 15:11
  • While this is correct, I'd like to add that "с утра" is also used as "first thing to do in the morning", while "утром" is more vast, say if you wake up at 8 and morning is till 12, you can do lots of thing in the morning, but only one of them will be "с утра". It might be not the very first thing to do in the morning (e.g. you will need to dress up first, maybe to have some breakfast), but still. Also if you describe your day, you can say "с утра я выпиваю чашку кофе и еду на работу"
    – Alissa
    Oct 11 '16 at 10:02

The version утром is quite neutral and simply means 'in the morning' or 'this morning' while с утра can have 2 different accented meanings:

1) (to do something) first thing in the morning;

2) (to be in condition of doing or not doing something) since (the early) morning

Correspondingly, your sentence 2 (which uses утром) sounds more natural than sentence 1 (which unnecessarily emphasizes awakening as the first thing done in the morning). I'd also slightly adjust the word order (to neutral) and add a preposition:

Сегодня утром я проснулся примерно [в какое время?] в без четверти три.

The sentences 3-7 are all possible, they vary in exact meaning (in the morning or first thing in the morning) and (due to diff. word order) emphasize different aspects, e g. sentence 4 emphasizes time aspect (as if it's a complete answer to a question about time), since in neutral case (sentence 5) time words in Russian are usually close to the beginning of the sentence (they are typically not in the end of it as in English).

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