When does the morning start for you? How about the afternoon, evening or night? Does it vary from day to day, perhaps depending on the sun, or do you stick to clock time?
Dictionary definitions of these words are as follows:
morning – the time from sunrise to noon; the time from midnight to noon [source].
afternoon – the part of day between noon and sunset [source].
evening – the latter part and close of the day and early part of the night; the period from sunset or the evening meal to bedtime [source].
night – the time from dusk to dawn when no sunlight is visible [source].
For me mornings start when the sun rises. That can vary a lot here from just before 5am in the summer to 8:30am in the winter. I often wake up when the sun comes up, but don’t usually get up until later.
Afternoon starts just after midday (12pm) – that doesn’t vary, though my lunchtime may be between 12pm and 3pm. Here the sun sets between 4pm in the winter and nearly 10pm in summer. So my afternoons would be very long in the summer if they lasted until sunset. Instead I think of them as going until I have my evening meal, which is usually between 6pm and 7pm.
Evenings for me start after my evening meal and last until bedtime. Nights overlap somewhat, usually from when it gets dark until sunrise.
Not all languages distinguish between afternoon and evening – there is one word for both. In Spanish and Portuguese it’s tarde, in Catalan it’s tarda, in Greek it’s απόγευμα, in Irish it’s tráthnóna and in Scottish Gaelic it’s feasgar.
If you’re a native speaker of one of these languges, do you think of the time between noon and night as a one period?
Are there other ways of dividing the day in other languages?