Ever heard these two greetings and got them confused? Are they used slightly differently in your language than in English? This article will show you all the differences between saying GOODNIGHT and GOOD EVENING.
1. Say GOODNIGHT only when you or the other person is going to bed or leaving for the night.
In English, GOODNIGHT is never actually a greeting but rather a farewell. You only use it if you or the person you’re talking to is turning in for the night. If you two live in the same house, this probably means that one of you is going to bed.
If you two are somewhere else, it simply means that one of you is leaving, and you’re not going to see each other for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, if it’s nighttime and you want to say hello to someone, use a normal greeting like HI or HELLO.
If you want to greet someone during other times of the day, you can certainly say GOOD MORNING, GOOD AFTERNOON, or GOOD EVENING. GOODNIGHT happens to be the exception here.
2. GOOD EVENING tends to sound a bit formal.
Native speakers actually rarely say GOOD EVENING in everyday conversation. It’s a greeting rarely used in casual speech and is reserved for occasions like formal speeches, news broadcasts, and customer service instead.
So you might hear an announcer say GOOD EVENING to their audience on TV or at a formal event, but probably not when you’re talking to a friend. GOOD AFTERNOON also tends to be a formal greeting, while most people say GOOD MORNING casually.
3. The difference between GOODNIGHT and GOOD EVENING doesn’t have much to do with the time of day.
It’s true that the words EVENING and NIGHT signify different parts of the day (evening is a bit earlier than night). However, the main difference between GOODNIGHT and GOOD EVENING is that one is a greeting, while the other is a farewell.
In other words, you would never say GOODNIGHT to say hello to someone, and you would never say GOOD EVENING to say bye to someone. It’s therefore better to think about the difference between these two expressions this way, rather than by what time of day it is.
If your friend decides to go to bed really early, say around 6 p.m., you could still say GOODNIGHT to them.
More for you:
- 15 Idioms and Phrases for Sleep
- Sleep good vs sleep well
- Can you tell me the duration for which we can use these greetings: Good Afternoon, Good Evening, Good Night
- What’s the name of expressions such as “Good morning, good afternoon, etc”?