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It looks like "buenos días" is most commonly translated as "good morning," although apparently it can mean "good day" as well (like a literal translation would suggest).

Is it appropriate to greet someone with "buenos días", even if it's not morning? (eg: in English if say "good morning" to someone and it's 13:00 it might be construed as sarcastic).


Parece que "buenos días" se traduce mayoritariamente como "good morning", aunque aparentemente también puede significar "good day" (como sugeriría una traducción literal).

¿Es apropiado saludar a alguien con "buenos días", aunque no sea por la mañana? (por ejemplo: en inglés decir "good morning" a una persona cuando son las 13:00 hrs se puede considerar sarcástico).

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yeah it's the same in Spanish. You have to use "Buenos días" if you're in the morning,"Buenas tardes" for the afternoon/evening and "Buenas noches" at night.

It's difficult to say when you have to stop saying "Buenos días" and start saying "Buenas tardes". Literally, the point would be at noon, but at least in Spain people say "Buenos días" before having lunch and "Buenas tardes after that point" (Spanish people have lunch around 2 pm or so). The change between "Buenas tardes" and "Buenas noches" would be in the sunset but the change could also be done at dinner time.

But if you say "Buenos días" at 6pm it would be definitely strange.

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In Bolivia, I heard this little joke: let's say that it's 2pm and you salute saying "Buenas tardes". She can say you: "Good morning. I still haven't had a lunch" ("Buenos días. Aún no he almorzado.") – Mario S Jun 20 at 23:34
  • Buenos días -> until 12:00pm
  • Buenas tardes -> from 12:01pm to last sun light
  • Buenas noches -> after sunlight is gone
  • Buen día differ if used like -> Que tenga un buen día = Have a nice day || Otherwise it can be interpreted as Good morning

  • Variables such as Buenas are used in some countries | Buenas = Howdy (no time frame).

For those getting doubts or questions about this you should remember that some regions/countries may use different rules for which this answer may not apply.

References and further reading:

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Where do you use this that sharp? – JoulSauron May 16 '12 at 14:32
@JoulSauron everywhere! At leas if you are speaking in Spanish. – user983248 May 17 '12 at 15:31
Read the other answer, in Spain we don't do it like that, that's why I'm asking where do you use your answer. – JoulSauron May 17 '12 at 16:12
I told you to read the other answer, the one of Javi and already accepted. – JoulSauron May 17 '12 at 18:23
I'm sorry, but when I wrote my previous comment I couldn't see your links, I apologize. :) Just edit your answer to include that in 95% of Latin America you use it that way. The reason that I've been asking where are you from and where do you use this is because it's really up to the person or place when to say "buenos días" and so. Now with your answer the question is fully answered as it covers all Spanish speaking countries. :) – JoulSauron May 18 '12 at 7:35

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