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I started work as a receptionist and must greet people that come and go. Please let me know what I should say when it is 4 pm and the client is leaving.

Should I say "Bye, have a nice afternoon" or "Bye, have a nice evening"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by choster, Chenmunka, Hellion, Mari-Lou A, Edwin Ashworth Jun 9 '15 at 0:00

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  • 4
    It depends on local custom. In the USA, 4pm is considered afternoon. But it could be thought of as "evening" elsewhere. – John Lawler Jun 4 '15 at 16:12
  • Hi and welcome to EL&U. Did you look at the related questions you were presented with here? They are still on the left – mplungjan Jun 4 '15 at 16:19
  • 2
    possible duplicate of Precise names for parts of a day – choster Jun 4 '15 at 16:44
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I personally think that 4 pm is late enough to use the word evening.

"Enjoy the rest of your day!" is always a nice way to send people off if you don't know the time.

There are no time rules for when the times of day start and end as they shift throughout the year. This said here is how I go for it.

If you can't tell were the sun is it is night.
Following night comes morning.
At noon we transition from morning to afternoon.
Wikipedia defines evening to begin as when the temperature has dropped noticeably,
but society's definition :
After you leave work and before it gets dark is evening.

With this in mind, take note of when a majority of your co-workers have left, the ones who remain are working into the evening. This is lose definition open to correction.

Now if you say "Have a nice evening" at 3 in the afternoon that's OK. Think of someone who is about to go to the movie, you may say, "enjoy the movie!" before they are at the movie. In the same sense it is reasonable to wish someone a nice evening before the evening has begun granted that there is no reasonable expectation that you will see them again between when you say it and when the evening does begin.

I hope this helps.

  • In AmE, 4pm is still afternoon. 5pm is not. In summer, evening doesn't feel right if the sun is still high, which can happen in summer. So 6pm isn't afternoon but may not feel like evening either Words can be vague. Anyway, people don't say good afternoon or good evening much any more. – Mitch Jun 4 '15 at 16:44
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It depends on where you are. In India, where I live, we say "good morning" from the time people wake up to 12 noon. Then we switch over to "good afternoon" till about 5 pm, when we begin saying "good evening" which lasts until bedtime.

For time-neutral goodbyes, you could use "Good day!" or one of your own suggestions.

  • Since she is talking about wishing people who are leaving, maybe mention that we say 'good night' too. Unless I'm the only guy in India who says that :) – Tushar Raj Jun 4 '15 at 17:24

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