good morning / good afternoon / good evening (what time?)

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by Magg, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    I think I know (please correct if not) that English speakers say 'good evening' from 6:00 pm on.

    On a summer day, here in Spain, I can't think of saying 'good evening' at 6 pm. For us it's still 'por la tarde' so we say 'buenas tardes', and if I'm not wrong your 'buenas tardes' is 'good afternoon'.
    Good evening = buenas noches
    Good night = buenas noches como saludo de despedida.

    Could you clear this cross-cultural difference up? Thanks
  2. Masood

    Masood Senior Member

    Leicester, England
    British English
    It depends (Sorry). 6pm is evening in winter. In the summer 6pm is afternoon. Depends on the daylight.

    Te corrijo:
    Could you clear this cross-cultural difference up->Could you clear up this cross-cultural difference
    from 6:00 pm on->from 6:00 pm onwards
  3. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    So, from what time on do you use 'good evening' in summer?
    Thanks for the correction.
  4. Masood

    Masood Senior Member

    Leicester, England
    British English
    ...maybe 8pm onwards. Others may disagree with me.
  5. Focalist Senior Member

    European Union, English
    I think it's tied up with mealtimes (the real cross-cultural difference being the difference in mealtime hours).

    As a guide:

    Before lunch: Good morning

    From lunchtime onwards: Good afternoon

    From dinnertime onwards: Good evening

    (As you correctly pointed out, Magg, "good night" only as a farewell)

    The divisions correspond roughly to 12 noon and 6 pm, because it is at around those times that most people eat.

    Strictly speaking, of course, the afternoon begins ...after noon (at 12.01 pm), though if anyone who is not keepting a strict eye on the clock says to you at 12.45 pm "Good morning" then you know they haven't eaten yet. If at 12.15 someone says "Good afternoon" the chances are they've already had their lunch.

    Much the same applies to the "evening meal": it marks the start of the evening, and 6 o'clock is probably the average time when people eat (at home, at least).

    Note, though, that the "goodbye" meaning of "good night" is so strong that people will frequently say it as early as, say, 4.30 or 5 pm when leaving work.


    P.S. I don't think the season of the year has a lot to do with afternoon/evening. The 6 o'clock news is the "early evening news" all year round, and people talk about "long summer evenings" - suggesting that it is the end of evening that is seasonally significant, not its beginning.
  6. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I think that is this part of the world, evening is a function of light as well as of meal times. We generally say good evening after the sun sets, except in mid-summer, when it stays light long after we begin to say 'good evening.'

    In short, I think it's largely a matter of local custom. I know of no firm rule.

    However, I have never heard anyone say 'good afternoon' after 5PM.
  7. David

    David Banned

    But I never heard anybody say 5 o'clock in the evening, 6 in the afternoon, "I'll meet you at the bar this afternoon at 6," or "I´ll see you after work tonight at 5." We say 5 o´clock in the afternoon, and 6 o'clock in the evening.

    In Spanish, everybody seems to say "las 6 de la tarde," o "las 7 de la noche," nunca "las 6 de la noche", "ni tampoco las 7 de la tarde."

    Por eso, yo diría que en español la tarde termina y la noche comienza a eso de las 6-1/2, mientras en inglés se termina the afternoon, y comienza la evening, una hora antes, a eso de las 5-1/2.
  8. Hola Amigos,

    En Mexico y en Guatemala tambien no es exacto, sino parte de la hora real, parte de la
    cantidad de luz, y menos de una relacion a la comida, cual me recuerda de otra pregunta de terminologi'a de comidas. En Mexico por la ultima, mas pequena comida del dia usa la cena y a veces merienda. ?Hay otras posibilidades tambien?

  9. Focalist Senior Member

    European Union, English
    Well, that rather depends who "we" are, doesn't it?. None of the following -- they are the first half-dozen examples, taken "as found", on Google uk -- seems odd to me:


    -- it was about 5 o'clock in the evening
    -- At 5 o'clock in the evening Lieut. Dawson arrived
    -- Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, at 5 o'clock in the evening
    -- Entry after 5 o'clock in the evening
    -- opens at 9 o'clock in the morning and normally closes at 5 o'clock in the evening
    -- until about 5 o'clock in the evening


    -- at 6 in the afternoon Hugo joined us
    -- at about six-thirty in the afternoon
    -- At six in the afternoon, five or six vehicles entered the village square
    -- on Monday at six in the afternoon
    -- John and I would drop in at the Cedar Bar at six in the afternoon

    One cross-cultural factor to be taken into account is that in the US the day generally runs at least one hour earlier than in the UK. I still believe, nevertheless, that there is considerable overlap in both countries and that the choice of afternoon/evening depends as much upon the influence of circumstances such as meal times and end-of-work times as upon that of the strict observance of clock-time.


    PS: When I left work at 4.45 pm tonight, my boss said "Good night" to me and so did two or three other people, whether staying on themselves or also on their way home. It was a bit of a dull day - but still broad daylight!
  10. OB-Wan New Member

    [Focalist said: "One cross-cultural factor to be taken into account is that in the US the day generally runs at least one hour earlier than in the UK..."]

    I'm afraid, I don't quite understand that line, but I don't want to draw us too far off-topic.

    [David Carter said: "En Mexico y en Guatemala tambien no es exacto..."]

    If this means what I think it means (I'm a beginner at this.) than I agree. The usage of the term is not exact. Each person uses the terms in their own way and I'm not even sure that there is a general rule.

    It just occurred to me that the best place to try to find a good rule would be a "style book". A style book is a collection of rules for writing. Each news organization, for instance, has it's own rules for determining what is grammatically correct. That would probably be a good place to start if you're looking for a rule of thumb.

    But in conversation, it still depends on the individual.

    In the USA, we can't even agree on the meaning of "dinner" and "supper", but don't get me started on that.
  11. funnydeal Senior Member

    Mexico, D.F.
    Mexico / Español
    Estoy de acuerdo contigo David.

    Nunca he escuchado ni he dicho: "a las 6 de la noche", "a las 7 de la tarde", sin importar si hay o no luz del día o por el cambio de horario.

    Por ciero en México le llamamos "horario de verano", creo que la frase en inglés es "daylight savings".
  12. valerie Senior Member

    France, French & Spanish
    Bueno, en España se dice la tarde hasta muy muy tarde: las 10 de la noche (22PM), pero las 8 de la tarde (20PM), y por descontado, las 7 de la tarde (19PM). Y eso, incluso en invierno.

    A medio dia, la regla de focalist me parece que se aplica bastante bien en España: Dices buenos dias hasta que hayas comido (pueden ser las 3 de la tarde), y buenas tardes despues
  13. funnydeal Senior Member

    Mexico, D.F.
    Mexico / Español

    En México a partir de las 12:00 PM se dice "buenas tardes" no importan los alimentos al respecto.
  14. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Bueno, en realidad tampoco acaba de ser como tú mencionas. Permíteme que te lo explique.

    Generalmente hablando, nosotros dividimos los saludos más bien guiados por la luz solar. Al menos lo que respecta al corte entre 'buenas tardes' y 'buenas noches'.

    A las 6, 7 ó 8 pm, diremos 'buenas tardes' a menos que haya anochecido. Así, en un día de verano, es muy normal que oigas decir 'buenas tardes' a las 9, ya que todavía es de día. Sin embargo, en pleno invierno, a las 8 podrías oir 'buenas noches'. No tiene nada que ver con haber cenado o no.

    Por la mañama, decimos 'buenos días' hasta 1 pm, y 'buenas tardes' a partir de esa hora. Y a las 12 o 12:30, creo que nadie ha comido todavía en todo el país.

    Un saludo
  15. fran Senior Member

    I tell you how I use it.

    Since I wake up till 12 p.m. "Good morning"
    Since 12 p.m. till 20/18 (summer/winter) "Good evening"
    Since 20/18 (summer/winter) "See you later" :D
    I only use "good night" when sunlight is off. :confused:

    If I remember rightly I have never used "Good afternoon" :eek:

    Please, correct me. I'll do it 4 you.
  16. gddrew Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    United States, English
    Para ayudarte un poquito con tu ingles:

    From the time I wake up till 12 p.m....
    From 12 p.m....
    From 20/18....

    I only use "good night" when the sun has set.
  17. LadyBlakeney

    LadyBlakeney Senior Member

    Although many people is not aware of it, traditionally in Spain we said "Buenos días" until noon, and "Buenas tardes" from twelve o'clock to sunset. "Buenas noches" can be used when you meet or say goodbye to a person during the night, not necessarily meaning that you are going to sleep.

    I hope this helps.
  18. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU

    Lady B-- It helps in that you have expressed, clearly and succintly, what I have felt as I read through all the posts. Perhaps it is a function of the surroundings in which I began to learn your language, but I use the terms in Spanish just as you have described.

    In English, however, there is more ambiguity. Puede que somos anárquicos lingüísticos.

  19. Nadietta Member

    Hallo anybody,

    could you please tell me exactly from what time till what time you use "good afternoon" vs. "good evening"? From 12.00 till 18.00 ?

    Thanks in advance for a prompt reply!

  20. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    I would say "Good morning" from 6:47am - 11:29am.
    I would say "Good afternoon" from 11:30am - 4:13pm.
    I would say "Good evening" from 4:14pm - 11:36pm.

    I hope I have helped!
  21. la grive solitaire

    la grive solitaire Senior Member

    United States, English
    Hmm...interesting, Venus. I'd go with what Nadietta suggested--noon to 6 o'clock, perhaps 5 o'clock in winter when it gets dark earlier.
  22. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States

    Seriously though, I usually correlate "Good morning" with my breakfast time (6-10), "Good afternoon" around my lunchtime (11-4), and "Good evening" around my dinner time (5-10).
  23. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Good night - at the end of the evening, whenever that might be - unless for frivolous reasons it seems appropriate to go back to "good morning" again.
  24. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Under normal circumstances, and with plenty or room for exceptions...
    good morning - waking until noon
    good afternoon - noon until 6ish
    good evening - 6ish until good night
    good night - the last salutation before retiring to home or bed
  25. Nadietta Member

    Many thanks to those who have tried to really help me ;)
  26. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    That's the best explanation, well done! The only time that seems to matter is noon. People will point out with a grin if you get this one wrong. Apart from that, the times are flexible. The "6ish" above could move a good deal either way, and is really determined by whatever is the natural division between afternoon and evening for you - going home from work is the division for me.
  27. Nadietta Member

    Thank you very much both of you, you've been helpful (as you maybe already know in Italian you still say "good morning" , "buongiorno", also at 1 PM !)

  28. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    US, English
    Good day can be said throughout the good morning and good afternoon times here, too, but is less common in AE.
  29. cristinas New Member

    Buena me gusaría que me explicaseis los saludos buenos dias, buenas tardes y buenas confundo a la hora de saludar por la tarde, no se si se emplea good afternoon or good evening.
    Muchísimas gracias!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  30. izas Senior Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spain, Spanish, Basque
    "Good morning" se utiliza hasta las 12 del mediodía; entonces, se dice "good afternoon" hasta las 7 de la tarde, más o menos.
    Entonces, se utiliza "good evening", hasta las 9 o por ahí, y a partir de ese momento, "good night".

    Espera por si acaso, a ver qué dicen los nativos.

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