We’ve all been in that situation where it’s that time of day when you’re not too sure whether you should say “Good afternoon” or “good evening”. But today, we’ll take a look at when the evening starts, why it’s not the same for everyone, and when it ends.
When does evening start?
There is no generally agreed upon time when the evening starts. It is a subjective matter, but not so subjective that you could say “good evening” at midday.
Some people say that evening starts at 6 pm. Others say it’s at whatever time they finish work. And others say it’s between dusk and full darkness.
If the latter is correct, the time of “evening” changes constantly because the sun sets at different times throughout the year.
When might evening start for you?
A better question than “When does evening start” might be “When does evening start for YOU”. This way, it’s more a reflection of how you organise your day than just about where the sun is.
Some say that evening starts after they finish work. This is the time when they have done all they have to do, and now, they get some time to relax.
Others would argue evening is after they have their dinner. Usually, people aren’t very productive after dinner.
And some people think that evening starts at whatever time it gets dark.
Why do some people say evening starts at 6pm?
In the introduction, we mentioned that some people think that evening starts at 6 pm. And the reason for this is religious.
In Jewish and Christian tradition, some high scholars many years ago decided that 6 pm would be the right time to stop work for the day and go home to spend time with the family. What’s interesting here is that this is not written anywhere in the Bible.
However, religion is just as much about tradition as it is about scripture. So even today, some religious folk believe that evening starts at 6 pm.
Good evening vs Good night
When things are dark, there are two phrases you might hear people say “good evening” and “good night”. But the two don’t have the same meaning.
First of all, evening comes before night.
And secondly, one means “hello” and the other “goodbye”.
To say “good evening” is to say “hello. I am excited to spend the evening with you”. But to say “good night” is to say “this has been fun but I am now heading to bed”.
Remember “good night” should not be said when you first meet someone.
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One way we can try to grasp what time “evening” is would be to look at its etymology. Of course, the meaning of words does change over time, but etymology might be a good place to start if we have no idea.
The word “evening” comes from the Old English word “ǣfnung”. Back then, the word ” ǣfnung” meant the time around sunset. Of course, this information might not be too relevant in a time when we all work to the clock, and not to the sun.
Although some would say that sunset is evening regardless of whether or not you’ve finished work.
Is 5pm evening or afternoon? It depends where you are
One of the issues with the word “evening” is that a time that might be the evening for you might not be for someone else.
For example, if it’s 7 pm in England it will be 11:30 pm in India. When the sun is setting in England, in India, it will already be pitch black.
And on top of that, if “evening” is dependent on the sun rather than the clock, the time evening starts also depends on where you are. For example, in December, evening will start much earlier if you live in England than it will in Australia.
What time is evening wedding?
And talking of evening, although “the evening” is subjective, there are some phrases with the word “evening” that have a bit more of a strict rule to them.
One such example is the “evening wedding”. This is the part of the wedding, where the bride and groom are already married, and now it’s time for everyone to just get a bit tipsy and dance.
If this bit of the wedding starts at 6 pm or later, it’s called the “evening wedding”. Some people don’t have an evening wedding. That’s up to you.
When does evening start and end?
Another question about evenings that some people might have is “When does it end?”. And just like “when does evening start?”, this is subjective and debatable.
Some would say that evening ends at midnight. At this time, it’s now evening and we should all be in bed. But others would say that evening ends when you go to sleep.
If the latter is correct, that means for some, the evening ends at 8 pm but for others, it ends at 3 am.
So, the debate here is “Is the end of evening determined by the clock, the moon, or your personal routine”.
Of course, “evening” isn’t the only word we have for that time of day, here are a few alternatives that you might want to use.
Take care, enjoy your end of the am.
I’m excited to spend time with my wife at the close of the day.
It’s twilight now, I’ll finish my work tomorrow.
When it’s dusk, I like to spend time with my family.
At nightfall, I’ll be watching that new TV show that people seem to like.
I like to shower at sunset, that way I smell lovely when I read my favourite book.
I like walking at eve, it’s a great time to clear your mind.
I had to clean the kitchen this eventide, it was such a mess!
My daughter will be back at evenfall, I have missed her a lot.
During gloaming, I secretly binge on chocolate.
First of all, I would like to apologize to those who clicked this article hoping for a definitive time. The “evening” is a partially subjective term.
Some say it happens at 6 pm. Others say it happens at twilight. And when it ends is just as debatable.
But hopefully, this article has taught you a few things that you didn’t know before about the “evening”, and you can use this information to your advantage next time you feel like saying “good evening” to someone.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.