If I want to say it's still somewhat early in the evening and it's not so dark outside so that you can still see things quite clearly almost like during daytime, which of the following sentences would be a better fit?

  1. It was still bright outside.
  2. It was still light outside.

I was told that one of them is incorrect, but both of them seem right to me.

  • 5
    Whoever told you is wrong. They don't mean the same thing, and only (2) is idiomatic, but they're both grammatical, and as correct as they can be. Commented May 18, 2013 at 2:14
  • Oh, thanks John! If what I really mean to say is that it's still kinda early in the evening and it's not so dark outside and you can still see things almost like during daytime, which sentence would be a better fit?
    – David
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 2:56
  • 1
    Oh, I'd say (2) in that case. Maybe still a bit light for emphasis. Bright would mean considerably, um, brighter; also lighter. Commented May 18, 2013 at 3:52
  • Thank you very much, John. Now I understand the difference.
    – David
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 5:32
  • After still a bit light one passes over to not quite dark yet, when color vision ceases and you only get b/w. When that goes it's dark. Commented May 19, 2013 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


The expression still light outside has existed for long. And it is grammatical. See: Different 'Light' Usages (1)

From the Harper's Magazine, Vol 149 [1924]

And now, with the window shuttered and the door closed, she could not tell when it was dark. She could pretend it was still light outside. But the village was quiet, quiet.

Sir John Alexander Hammerton The Masterpiece Library of Short Stories [1920]

… up the slippery winding stairs. Then he sighed still more deeply and went in again. Though it was still light outside, the basement was clothed in a dark blue half-light, so that all that could be seen …

Stop the Clock Deborah Paul writing in the Indianapolis Monthly Mar 2007

When we turn the clocks forward this month, daylight will begin to extend longer and longer until summer comes and before we know it, it's nearly 10 p.m. and still light outside. This just isn't natural.

Ronald Schmidt, The Undelivered [2008]

… it is now almost 10:00 pm. However, it was still light outside. He has never seen the so-called Midnight Sun before.

However, it seems more of a literary and colloquial use rather than formal.

Still light outside at 9pm (garvolinda on YouTube 0:45)

Has light in this sense gained greater acceptance and usage of late over bright?
enter image description here

  • Possibly regional to US upper midwest. Commented May 18, 2013 at 12:30

The first one would be a more frequently used and seen one. Or you can always say "It's dimmer than the day outside." or just "It's dim outside". The second one is grammatically correct too . So, no worries and just stick to what you prefer. Unless, you are worried that the other party's understanding of vocabulary is not as good as yours, then you should stick to the first one to avoid any misunderstanding. :)

  • 1
    Dusk would be preferable to dim in the evening; I tend to shift over to still dark or still a bit dark in the morning, but that's just the force of the temporal metaphor rotating around. Commented May 18, 2013 at 3:54
  • I think the relative frequency will depend on where you are -- in KY I hear "light outside" more often than "bright".
    – starwed
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 8:46
  • I don't think I've ever heard “dim outside,” and while people do talk of a “bright summer day,” that's something you'd hear around noon, not in the evening. I'd prefer “getting dark” or “light outside.” That's both for Detroit and the San Francisco Bay Area. Commented May 19, 2013 at 10:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.