What time is afternoon? Here’s the full explanation

If you’ve just read our article about “noon”, you might want to learn about what comes after. Today, we’ll look at what time the afternoon starts, and why it starts at this time.

What time is afternoon?

The afternoon starts at 12pm.

Another word for 12pm is “noon”. Afternoon is thus after noon.

Watch the video: Only 1 percent of ... x
Watch the video: Only 1 percent of our visitors get these 3 grammar questions right...

The Origin of the afternoon

The word “noon” comes from the Old English word “non” meaning “nine”. And yes, I know that makes things confusing, because noon is at 12, not nine.

But back when our language was developing, sunrise would usually be at about 6am, and then 9 hours later, at 3pm, monks would do their “noon prayers”.

But over time, both time and English changed. Noon now has nothing to do with prayers, but more to do with where the sun is in the sky. But, knowing where it comes from helps us understand that we didn’t always think of time in the same way as we do now.

The day is split into 3

Generally speaking, we like to split the day into 3 sections.

Morning starts at 1am. For 7-11 hours, most of us are asleep.

Afternoon starts at 12pm. If it has gone after noon, it is the afternoon.

Evening is a bit more subjective, different people classify the evening as starting at different times. But generally, most of us start the evening at the time we finish work, which is often around 5.

Breaking up the day into 3 parts helps us manage it better. I might say “I will work in the morning, but walk in the afternoon, then have dinner in the evening”.

What time is afternoon tea?

In England, some people might like to have what is known as “afternoon tea”. As you can probably tell by the name, afternoon tea happens in the afternoon.

Most of the time, this tea will take place between 3.30 and 5pm in the afternoon. The tradition arose during the 1840s.

The members of the upper-class would get hungry between lunch and dinner, so having afternoon tea stopped them from getting too hungry.

Most of the time, afternoon tea consists of sandwiches, cakes, and of course, tea.

What time is afternoon until?

This question is a bit more subjective than “What time is the afternoon?” Different people define evening differently.

If you finish work at 5, chances are the evening starts at 5. But if you finish work at 8, then the evening is likely to start at 8 for you.

However, once you get to around 8pm, it’s hard to argue it ‘s not the evening. So although “evening” is a kind of subjective term, nobody could argue that any time before 12, or after 8, is the “evening”.

Why splitting up the day is helpful

Breaking up the day into 3 chunks helps us manage what we’re going to do with it. Let’s say in one day, I have to file the documents, meet with the client, and then cook lasagna.

If I spend the morning filing documents, the afternoon with the client, and the evening cooking lasagna, I have managed the day better. This becomes more important if I had not only 3, but 30, or even 50 tasks that need to be done in one day.

Sometimes, if you want to make things easier, the best thing to do is break it down into smaller chunks.

Why is the sun highest at 12pm?

12pm is the time the sun is supposed to be at the highest point. Due to how the earth moves, it takes 12 hours for the sun to reach the top of the sky, and then another 12 hours to come back down again.

Of course, human clocks don’t always reflect what the sun is doing. So the sun might not always be at the highest point at exactly 12pm, but in general, this is roughly how it works.

Or at least, thinking of it that way makes all our lives much easier.


The afternoon starts at 12pm.

Because 12pm is the noon, anytime after that time is after noon (afternoon).
And now, you should know what time the afternoon is, but also why it’s at this time, and how that has changed over time.
If you’ve had enough time now, maybe read one of our articles, which is about something other than time.

You might also like: Is It Correct To Say “Good Noon”? Full Explanation (With Examples)