Afternoon vs. Evening: It's Time to Differentiate

By , Staff Writer
Definitions of "afternoon" and "evening" from the article.
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The meaning of afternoon may seem simple. After all, the definition is in the name. However, the overlap between afternoon and evening can often lead to confusion. 

Time Difference Between Afternoon and Evening

There is no exact time frame for the transition from afternoon to evening to night. Rather, evening begins around the time the sun sets in most places or when the typical business day ends, which is 5:00-6:00 p.m. Additionally, time and the rising and setting of the sun vary depending on time zones and whether you live north or south of the equator. Because of this, afternoon and evening are loose measurements of time that can vary in their meaning and usage.

  • afternoon - the time between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00-6:00 p.m.

  • evening - the time between 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 or 9:00 p.m.

Afternoon and evening are times of day that have rough time frames. While some times of day are straightforward, others are more vague.

Time of Day

Time Frame

morning

12:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

noon/midday

12:00 p.m.

afternoon

12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

evening

5:00 – 9:00 p.m

twilight

5:00 – 7:00 a.m. and p.m.

dusk

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

night

8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

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Meaning and Usage of "Afternoon"

Afternoon begins immediately after 12:00 p.m., which is often called noon. The end of the afternoon time period coincides with the time the sun sets or the business day ends. It can be used as either a noun or an adjective to describe when something is taking place.

  • This meeting is at 2:00 in the afternoon. (noun)

  • I’m just drinking my afternoon tea. (adjective)

  • It rained all afternoon. (noun)

When and How to Use "Evening"

Evening lasts from the time the sun sets until around 8:00-9:00 p.m. It is marked by twilight or dusk when daylight decreases. Like afternoon, it can be used as a noun or an adjective to describe the time of day you do a certain activity.

  • We have dinner at around 6:30 p.m. every evening. (noun)

  • I watch the evening news from 7:00-8:00 p.m. every day. (adjective)

  • She takes her evening walk every day from 5:30-6:00 p.m. (adjective)

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What About "Dusk" and "Twilight"?

The term dusk describes the process of becoming dark. Therefore, it can sometimes be used interchangeably with evening or twilight.

In contrast, twilight refers to the time between daylight and dark, such as the time between night and morning and sunset and night. More generally, it can be used to describe an intermediate period of time.

Timeline labeled with different times of day from the article.
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    Michael Lee / Moment / Getty Images / via Getty created by YourDictionary
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Take Time to Learn the Difference

The difference between afternoon and evening can come down to daylight, but make sure you know the difference between lite and light. After that, check out when to eat dinner vs. supper.