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We're off work at 5:00PM. I've never tried to say "have a good night" at this time of day. In fact, I wouldn't even say it at all unless I'd like to say it to someone who is heading to bed.

When I'm done at 5:00PM, I usually say "see you tomorrow". Until recently I've never started saying "have a good night" to my colleagues. Even if I say it every day now, I don't feel it's right. However, most of my colleagues will keep saying "have a good night" to each other, so it's better for me to do the same thing.

Also, sometimes when it feels really weird or awkward to say, I will say "have a good one" instead.

Is it appropriate to say "have a good night" to colleagues when done at work? Any better way than saying "see you tomorrow"?

EDIT: I've considered saying "have a nice evening", but I feel it's even worse than saying "have a good night" because people might get the impression that you only wish them well for the evening, and that you don't care if they are good or not after the evening.

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By prefixing "Goodnight" with "Have a" you're making a rod for your own back. The standard single-word version works perfectly well because at least one of you has finished their "working day", even if it's not yet dark. The "expanded" version runs the risk of seeming intrusive to those (not unreasonable) people who like to keep work and personal life separate, so I would advise against it unless you have close relations with your colleagues outside of the office environment. –  FumbleFingers Nov 24 '11 at 22:43
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I agree - "Good night" is fairly standard here, once the work day is over (Or "G'night" as I sometimes say). –  Izkata Nov 24 '11 at 23:44
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Any attempt to say "Have a good X" is purely social protocol. Nobody is going to think that you only mean them well for the evening. In fact, most people are hardly going to analyze the content at all; the only thing that matters is that you said something that filled the "goodbye" slot. They probably don't even care about the difference between "have a good night", "have a good evening", and "see you tomorrow". They just fill the "goodbye" slot in the social protocol. –  jprete Nov 25 '11 at 1:11
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I have a friend who just says "good morning" no matter the time of day, since he regards it as the most cheerful of the "good X" expressions. –  Jefromi Jan 3 '12 at 15:03
    
Terry, there is no way people are going to think you're wishing them only well for the evening but not later by saying "have a nice evening". That's just contrary to social norms and the use of such pleasantries. In fact, "have a nice day" is perfectly fine too. But I feel wishing them a good evening is slightly better than a good night, because you are recognizing the day is still early and there is time for them to enjoy the evening. –  Chan-Ho Suh Aug 19 '12 at 20:55
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7 Answers 7

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Yes, though I think you're over-analysing it. By saying "have a good night", you're wishing them well for the entire remainder of the day, which is more informal than simply saying "see you tomorrow". An alternative would be "have a good evening".

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"which is more informal " or "which is more formal"? –  Tim Nov 24 '11 at 22:11
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I see. I feel "have a good night" is more formal. –  Tim Nov 24 '11 at 22:17
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As an American English speaker, I frequently say Have a good night! when concluding a discussion, for example, with a colleague who has stopped by my desk on her way out of the office in the afternoon to evening hours; this is normal and my intent is to wish them an enjoyable evening when I expect to see them the next day. I usually say Have a good weekend or enjoy your vacation or something else appropriate when I won't be seeing them the next day. –  aedia λ Nov 24 '11 at 22:19
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See adieu in wiktionary for a nice list of English end-of-day greetings, such as adios, aloha, arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, cheerio, ciao, good day, sayonara, shalom. For some reason that list leaves out hasta la vista, another I'd recommend. –  jwpat7 Nov 24 '11 at 22:54
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@jwpat7 most of those aren't English; the French, German, Spanish, Italian ones etc are well known to English speakers, but not absorbed into the language to the extent that they could be described as English words of foreign origin. When you hear them, you accept that the speaker is adopting a foreign language, for their own amusement and maybe for yours. –  slim Jan 3 '12 at 17:21
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I don't see why it would be inappropriate to say 'have a good night', although I admit it does sound odd to my ears also. As an Australian English speaker and office worker, I'd rarely if ever heard anyone say this at the end of the work day, until a colleague from Canada arrived. He says it regularly to anyone leaving, even as early as 15:30 or 16:00.

Personally, I find 'have a good night' to be a strange thing to say on a regular weekday, when most people would typically be doing nothing worthy of note in the evening. If I knew a colleague was going to see a concert or a play, I might say 'have a great night' or similar. Otherwise, 'see you tomorrow' is perfectly reasonable in my opinion and about all you'll get from me.

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OMG...We feel exactly the same way! –  Terry Li Nov 24 '11 at 22:14
    
Absolutely. The only reasonable context for a work colleague to say "Have a good night" would be if you've just been telling them about something unusual / exciting you're doing later after work. Or if he/she was a non-native speaker (or Canadian! :) –  FumbleFingers Nov 24 '11 at 22:35
    
...actually, it's not a very broad experience, but most Canadians I've met do seem to be very polite and friendly/earnest, so it could just be standard parlance for them. –  FumbleFingers Nov 24 '11 at 22:37
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"Enjoy the rest of the day/evening"

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How about "Have a nice evening"?

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I hear both in the workplace, but this one seems to be more common, since evening is closer than night at the time that people are leaving work. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 24 '11 at 23:28
    
Didn't OP specifically say that he didn't like "have a nice evening"? Actually, I'm not certain if he said that afterwards, in response to your answer, because I see it was an EDIT. –  Feral Oink Nov 25 '11 at 9:33
    
@FeralOink: Actually, his edit was a response to my answer. I see now that "Have a good evening", ie a similar answer was the ideal one for him. –  Irene Nov 26 '11 at 9:54
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I would not say "Have a good night" except perhaps to somebody I was expecting to stay awake all night. "Have a good evening" would be more suitable for those going to sleep at sensible hours.

A simple "Good night" would be a goodbye, in contrast to "Good morning" or "Good evening" as ways of saying hello, and I often use it at any time after sunset.

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I would say that "Goodnight" is the conventional parting saying, when it's late afternoon or later and you won't be seeing that person again before the morning.

(And the response is typically to echo "goodnight" back).

"Have a good night" can be used in the same way. However to my ears the extra words add the gentle implication that the person is doing something special that night, and that they should enjoy it.

For example, I might normally say "Goodnight" to my colleague, but if I know he's taking his wife to a restaurant, I might instead say "Have a good night".

A non-native speaker might be tempted to say "good evening" or "good afternoon" as a goodbye at the end of the day. These are not wrong, but they feel a little bit stiff and old-fashioned. "Goodnight" is safe.

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I work in Canada and yes, my colleagues say "Have a good night" when they are leaving for the day even if it's 3 pm.

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