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When you greet someone in the morning, you simply say, “Good morning,” if it’s afternoon, you say “Good Afternoon.” What do you say to greet someone at night? Do you say, “Good night?” If you say so, is it correct? Does it make sense to native speakers when you say “good night” while you greet someone at night? Let’s find the answers and the correct ways to greet someone at night.
In formal settings at night, you can greet someone by saying “Good evening” if the time is before midnight, and you can say “Good morning” if it is after midnight. And, of course, whether it is night or daytime, you can greet someone by saying “Hi” or “Hello.” However, we say “Good night” to bid someone farewell at night, not to greet or start a conversation.
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Besides the expressions mentioned above, there are different ways you can greet someone at night. Also, there are controversies regarding the time frames of evening, night, and morning. In the rest of the post, I will try to clear all the confusion and discuss some polite ways to greet someone at night in detail.
Say “Good Evening” to Greet Someone before Midnight
In a general sense, the evening is a time around sunset. According to Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary, evening refers to the time between 5 PM to 9 PM, and night refers to the time between 9 PM to 4 AM.
So, does it make sense to greet someone by saying “Good Evening” from sunset to 9 PM? Yes, it absolutely does. But how about after 9 PM?
The usual practice that we notice in native speakers in English is that they say “Good evening” to greet someone from sunset to midnight (12 o’clock at night). No matter what the scientific definition and time frame evening and night have, the standard practice is to say “Good evening” to greet someone before midnight.
Note: If you work for any international call center, it’s better not to use any time-of-day reference to greet someone. It may cause confusion since the person you talk to may be from another time zone.
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Say “Good Morning” to Greet Someone After Midnight
Generally, the morning starts from the time of sunrise and ends at midday or noon. Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary marks the morning from 5 AM to 12 PM. So undoubtedly, we can greet someone with “Good morning” within that time frame.
How about the time from midnight to 4:59 AM? What do we say to greet people at that time?
We can greet someone by saying “Good morning” after midnight since the first few hours after midnight are called the very early morning. These very early morning hours are technically called “Wee hours” when most people are asleep.
Note: Saying “Good morning” to greet someone after midnight is a prevalent practice in most English-speaking countries, such as the USA.
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No “Goodnight” to Greet Someone at Night
In a plain sense, the night is the time from sunset to sunrise. However, the time frame that Merriam-Webster Dictionary suggests for the night is from 9 PM to 4 AM. So, do native English speakers greet someone by saying “Goodnight” within this time frame?
“Goodnight” is not at all a greeting expression in English. You can only use “Good night” to take someone’s leave or to say “Bye” to someone at night.
Note: Instead of saying “Goodnight” to greet someone at night, say “Good evening” before midnight and “Good morning” after midnight.
“Hello,” “Hi,” “Hey,” etc. Are the Common Ways of Greetings
No matter if it’s day or night, you can greet someone and start any conversation with a simple “Hello.” This is a very convenient and confusion-free way of greeting someone, as it has no reference to any particular time.
You can say “Good afternoon” when it is practically afternoon. But you can greet someone with “Hello” regardless of any particular time frame. There are so many other words, phrases, or expressions that you can use instead of hello in order to greet someone at night.
- Hey there!
- Hello there!
Note: The above expressions of greeting are all different forms of “hello” that you can only use in casual/informal contexts.
Use “How Are You?” to Greet Someone at Night
“How are you” is a common expression to greet someone at any time—day or night. You can use this in formal situations instead of saying “Hello.” However, don’t assume that “How are you” is said to ask about someone’s health condition. It is merely a greeting expression to native speakers of English.
Well! There are some other ways to say “How are you” in English. You can check the list below.
- What’s up?
- What’s new?
- How is everything?
- What’s going on?
- How is it going?
Note: The expressions I mentioned above are recommended to use instead of “How are you” in informal settings only. There are very convenient for greetings as they don’t require any time reference. You can use them at night and daytime as well.
A Sample Conversation on Greeting Someone at Night
Sandy: Hi, Jimmy – What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting you, really. How’s everything going?
Jimmy: Hello, Ms. Sandy! Good evening – I apologize for disturbing you at this hour… but it’s something really important.
Sandy: Okay. Tell me what it is.
Jimmy: It’s about the assignment report I submitted to you the other day. I think I’ve made a mistake during compiling the papers.
Sandy: I’m not sure I can help with that now. I’ve already arranged all the assignments after reviewing them.
Jimmy: I get it. But it’s just the TOC and Bibliography parts. I missed out on putting some additional information on those parts.
Sandy: Hmmm… let me see…
Jimmy: I’ve worked very hard on this assignment report. Missing out on that information could reduce my grades.
Sandy: …… alright… can you email me the updated pages now?
Jimmy: I’ve actually brought them with me, so you can replace them – here you go.
Sandy: Nice. Okay, then. I’ll attach them accordingly.
Jimmy: Thank you so much, Ms. Sandy! That’s so kind of you. I think I’ll take your leave now.
Sandy: Bye, Jimmy. Take care.
Compile (verb) = to arrange information, papers, or files in order
Bibliography (noun) = a part of a publication, article, or report that contains references to the list of book sources
Many ESL learners get confused regarding the proper way to greet someone at night. I hope this post will help you understand the appropriate way to greet people with “Good evening” and “Good morning.”
Use “Good Evening” to greet someone before midnight and “Good morning” after midnight. And remember, you should NOT use “Goodnight” to greet someone; instead, use it to bid them farewell.
Thanks for reading.