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I have heard my friend say yesterday evening or yesterday night. I tell her it's last evening or last night. While she may be correct in that it is the night of yesterday, why is it then called last night (or last evening)?

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    It is the last night that has occurred. If it were still ongoing, it would be tonight or this evening. – bib Oct 27 '13 at 18:06
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    possible duplicate of Why do we say "last night" and not "yesterday night"? – Colin Fine Oct 27 '13 at 19:59
  • @Colin Fine: I'm not so sure (though to be honest I've no doubt I'd have closevoted along with you if I hadn't already answered here! :). The thing is, I see this question as more about yesterday/last evening, which isn't even mentioned in those earlier answers. Specifically, I now discover that there seems to be a US/UK split in respect of evening (being the "cusp" point between morning/afternoon and night, where almost all of us agree on yesterday for the former, and last for the latter). – FumbleFingers Oct 27 '13 at 23:41
  • "Yesterday evening" is reasonably idiomatic. "Yesterday night" is not. – Hot Licks Jul 2 '16 at 22:47
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If you're speaking on Tuesday about something that happened on Monday, it's yesterday.

If you want to be more specific, you can say yesterday morning, yesterday afternoon, yesterday evening. The exception here is that native speakers almost never say ?yesterday night - it's invariably last night (and conversely, we don't say ?last morning/afternoon/evening).

(Edit) Thanks to Talia for pointing out that US speakers actually prefer last evening over yesterday evening. As a Brit I find that odd, but at least we all agree last doesn't work for morning/evening.

If you're talking some time later (say, Friday) about what you did Tuesday, and you want to refer back to earlier events on Monday you can't use either yesterday or last, because they always mean the day before the day on which you are speaking (not ...the day of which you are speaking). You have to use alternatives such as...

"On Tuesday I slept through my alarm because I'd stayed up late the previous/preceding evening".
(or "...the evening/night before").

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    Fingers I don't think I have ever heard any native English speaker say 'yesterday night'. Isn't it always 'last night'? Equally I HAVE heard people say 'last evening', but that was a long time ago. I think it has possibly passed out of use. – WS2 Oct 27 '13 at 19:20
  • @WS2: At the time of writing, I knew that I personally wouldn't normally use yesterday night. So I just made a quick check on Google Books (repeated in the link here in this comment), and figured that "About 21,200 results" implied other people did use it. But I now see that yesterday night I went generates only 500 hits, compared to over 270,000 for last night I went, so I'll have the courage of my [original] convictions and edit to reflect that. – FumbleFingers Oct 27 '13 at 20:14
  • I have an issue with your ?last evening. Although journalists will normally use yesterday evening, in more immediate contexts last evening doesn't seem to have less currency. Google gives about 230 hits ("the most relevant" ones; otherwise it gives millions) for I/you/he/she/we/they said last night and 190 for its yesterday evening variant. And personally, too, last evening doesn't really hit my ear wrong, though I'm not sure if I actually use it, at least in the concerned sense (I do say, "On our last evening..." but that has a whole different context). – Talia Ford Oct 27 '13 at 21:24
  • Personally I would not use 'last evening'. But that may be because I am not really an 'evening person'. I tend to use 'night' where others will use 'evening'. And I strongly suspect that is a relic of the Broad Norfolk with which I grew up. But associated with this question of 'last evening' is the wider issue about who says 'evening' and who says 'night' and in what circumstances. Does it depend on the time. Is there a moment when evening becomes night e.g. after 10.00pm for example? – WS2 Oct 27 '13 at 21:36
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    As an AmE speaker, 'last evening' sounds -very- odd to me. 'Last night' but 'yesterday evening' (in AmE, 'evening' is somewhat rare anyway.) – Mitch Oct 27 '13 at 23:08

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