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When to Use “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening” (4pm, 5pm, 6pm)

Is it “good afternoon” or “good evening” when referring to something that’s happening after 4pm or 5pm in the afternoon? The polite greetings “good afternoon” and “good evening” are very similar. Which is the correct form to use based on the time of day?

Learn in this short American English guide.

GreetingTime of Day
Good afternoon12:01pm (noon) to 4pm
Good evening4pm to 10pm

When to say “good afternoon”

A person should say “good afternoon” when it is 12:01pm (or noon) until 5pm in the evening. And use “good evening” from 5pm until 10pm at night. With the final “good night” used after 9pm or 10pm at night.

For example:

  • Good afternoon father, how is your day going today?

When to say “good evening”

A person should say “good evening” around 4pm or 5pm in the evening. A good way to remember this form is to refer to the daylight. In the winter months, a person would say “good evening” earlier than in the Summer, simply because it is getting dark sooner.

Making the time of “evening” feel earlier in the day than the afternoon. It’s acceptable to say good afternoon up until 4pm. And use “good evening” from 5pm and onward.

For example:

  • Good evening mother, how are you doing today?

Which form should get used in an email?

The recipient of the email may not have the same time of the day as you when reading the email. Use which form sounds the most appropriate based on the time of day the email is getting read.


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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