I'm answering a question about a text. In the text, it says:

The train left the station at 10:00PM

and, the question I must answer is

Did the train leave late in the evening?

I'm not sure about this. I'd say the train left early at night, but I'm not sure if 10pm can be still considered as "Late evening".

Any kind of help is welcome.


PS: I couldn't find appropriate tags. Also, if this has to be moved to other forum, I won't have any problem. Im new here so I'm sorry if this is not the appropriate place.

  • possible duplicate of 'Tonight' and 'this evening' – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 '15 at 15:52
  • Since many people would tend to understand evening as lasting from 6pm until midnight (after which it's the wee small hours, one might reasonably assume early evening is anywhen before 9pm (being the mid-point), and late evening is anywhen after. But different people keep different hours, so there's little chance of everyone agreeing on How late is "late"? – FumbleFingers Jul 20 '15 at 15:54
  • possible duplicate english.stackexchange.com/questions/28498/… – Misti Jul 20 '15 at 16:02
  • This question cannot possibly be answered with any confidence without knowing the habits of the people involved. For some 10PM is early evening, for others, late evening. There are those for whom "late evening" doesn't begin until after midnight. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '15 at 16:26

I ran into this problem when I started teaching composition to Chinese students: they kept using evening as if it were afternoon, and I kept telling them they were wrong. The next semester I looked it up and this is what I found for "evening" in Merriam-Webster 3rd international:

  • a) the latter part and close of the day and early part of darkness or night
  • b) chiefly South & Midland : the time extending roughly from noon to twilight : afternoon; "It was about 3 o'clock in the evening."
  • c) the part of the day from noon to midnight — used in the Bible
  • d) the period from sunset or from the evening meal to bedtime

So they were sort of right; though I still reject noon to midnight since we aren't living in Biblical times, and also the argot of the "south and midland" (where is that?), which has evening but no afternoon.

But no matter how you cut it, evening means the early part of the night; this is why we say good evening as a greeting. Night is not just night, it is later than evening, hence good night is a farewell.

After looking up lots of stuff, I also thoroughly convinced myself that twilight is definitely a part of evening for many many people, even though I had rejected the idea before. Try checking out song lyrics. Result: big loss of face (I had to tell them). Teachers, be cautious of overconfidence!

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. Because of the comments and the answers, I concluded that, indeed, 10pm is "late in the evening" for this case. – Daniel Jul 20 '15 at 16:49
  • 1
    I agree, and I think this is less 'opinion based' than the comments above suggest. The point here is that 'evening' begins with twilight. That's fixed, regardless of what your personal habits are, and limits the relativeness of 'early' and 'late'. In the same way, 'early' afternoon and 'late' afternoon are fixed by noon. People might well disagree whether 3 pm is early or late afternoon, but I think most people would say that 1 pm is early afternoon, and 5 pm is late afternoon. – rabbit Jul 21 '15 at 5:21

"Evening" is very frequently used to mean "night", perhaps most notably in the greeting "good evening". This is probably because the phrase "good night" is an unambiguous dismissal, and cannot be used as a greeting.

  • If you allow night to substitute for evening, isn't the phrase then saying "late in the night"? That doesn't seem right for 10 PM. – Jim Mack Jul 20 '15 at 15:50
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    I suppose so, but then again, if you let it get too much later, it becomes "early in the morning". – Doug Warren Jul 20 '15 at 15:51

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