Periods of the Day and Greetings

Periods of the Day and Greetings

As the sun rises and sets, different períodos do dia periods of the day are defined as:

a manhã the morning – from about 6am until noon

a tarde the afternoon – from noon until about 6pm.

a noite the night – from about 6pm to midnight

a madrugada very early in the morning – from midnight to 6am


Although the transition from a manhã to a tarde is always clearly 12:00 noon, the rest of the terms are used a lot more loosely in conversation.
It’s also common for madrugada to be replaced by manhã for those early hours before the sun comes up, (just like in English).
São duas da manhã! Deixa-me dormir! It’s two in the morning! Let me sleep!

Greetings by Time of Day

For each period of the day, there are distinct greetings we use when running into people:

In the morning: bom dia good morning

In the afternoon: boa tarde good afternoon

In the evening and night: boa noite good evening or night

Although in English it would be strange to use “good night” as a “hello”, or “good afternoon” as a “goodbye”,  all of these Portuguese greetings can be used as either hello or goodbye. For example, after buying something in a store during the day, you could definitely say to the cashier:
Obrigado e boa tarde! Thank you and have a good afternoon!

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