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Couple of questions

In German - Guten Tag is a very common expression , and in english translates to good day. However, good day in english speaking countries is quite antiquated and is now rarely used anywhere. People generally would use good morning or good afternoon. Which brings me to another question - In German -good afternoon is Guten Nachmittag, which unfortunately is apparently antiquated in German. I have heard it, but apparently it is bad form to say Guten Nachmittag outside of a classroom setting. Any other comments on Guten Tag and Guten Nachmittag? Das ist alles!

April 23, 2018



Andre Länder, andre Sitten (different countries, different customs)


"Guten Tag" - you could say all day long

"Guten Morgen" - you would say mostly before 11 a.m. or until lunchtime, but never after noon/lunch time (except you have forgotten the time and you don't realize that it's already that late).

"Guten Abend" - you would usually not say before 5 p.m., maybe also starting to use it a bit earlier if your workday is already over

"Gute Nacht" - you would only say when the day is over, never as a "hello", it is only used as a "farewell" (when you or the other people are supposed to go to bed after you leave each other). If it's already night time and you want to say "hello" you should use "Guten Abend" instead.

"Guten Vormittag" / "Guten Nachmittag" - is not uses as a "hello" but as a "farewell" it might be used in a sentence like:

  • "Ich wünsche dir (noch) einen guten Vormittag/Nachmittag."

  • Short (do not use in written language): "Guten Vormittag/Nachmittag noch".

However, it's more common to use "schönen" instead of "guten" here.

And, you would only use this phrase at the begin of the morning, e.g up to 10 a.m. Later it would rather be "Schönen Tag noch" / "Einen schönen Tag noch".

"Guten Nachmittag noch" you would only use as long as "Abend" does not approach, yet, e.g. until 16 p.m. Later it would be "Schönen Abend noch"



  • Until lunch time: "Guten Morgen" / "Guten Tag"

  • During lunch time (at least in some areas of Germany) you could also here "Mahlzeit!" (which literally means "have a nice meal")

  • After lunch time until about after tea time: "Guten Tag"

  • After work and during the night: "Guten Abend" / "Guten Tag"


  • When you're about to leave for going to bed: "Gute Nacht"


I'm a native German speaker and I've never heard someone saying 'Guten Nachmittag' in a serious way (but maybe joking).

You can also say 'Guten Tag' when it's morning or evening, e.g. when you greet someone you're passing by. I feel like 'Guten Morgen' or 'Guten Abend' can sound somewhat too personal when used in a very formal setting.

What is indeed a bit antiquated is saying 'Guten Tag' when leaving. I heard it in old movies and was confused. ;) I think you could still hear it in formal settings.


I also thought that "Guten Nachtmittag" sort of doesn't exist. Thanks for clearing that up for me!


Well, I can't guarantee. It could be used in some dialects. ;)


That's fine, I just hadn't heard that before so I was unsure weither it was a 'valid' option.


It is not often used. I heard it in the most only to understand what is said in an other language where they use it still.


I would just like to point out that you wrote "NachTmittag." Was that intentional? Thinking of wishing someone a "good midnight" made me smile.


Mostly I hear people saying "Guten Tag" as a farewell when they leave a bit in anger. Normally I would say "Schönen Tag", so just saying "Guten Tag" is like a step back from the usual kind wishes...

  • 1618

Good to know.

  • 1618

Verschiedene Länder, verschiedene Kulturen.


"Guten Nachmittag" - Na ja nun, ich habe es bei mir in Berlin definitiv schon erlebt aber tatsächlich nur wenn das Wort "noch" mit dabei ist. Die Erklärung finde ich auch ausführlich und sehr gelungen. Das ist tauglich für jedes Büro- und Geschäftsleben.

  • 1618

Yes, in English it is not uncommon to say "Good day" when leaving someone. It means in essence - "I hope the rest of the day is good for you."


In German I rather would say "Auf Wiedersehen" or more informal "Bis dann" because if you let it sound hard (the military style) it can also sound ironic to say "Guten Tag" if you leave or let leave someone a place.


I think you can use either of your examples, I don't think it matters too much, people will still understand you.

Good morning - Guten Morgen

Good day - Guten Tag

Good evening - Guten Abend

Good night - Gute Nacht

Hope my Beitrag helped.


But- you should still be able to use something more specific in the afternoon, besides Guten Tag. Is Guten Nachmittag considered so terrible that it is not to be mentioned? No body is really answering my question. Guten Tag is too general a comment.


No one uses "guten Nachmittag" except to be facetious. It's technically correct and usable, but why? Guten Tag IS enough. I think that's what people are trying to tell you.


Mia797420 explained really good what we use in German. The "Nachmittag" as a time is not really so important anymore in our daily life here I think. A lot of people live their daily working during the day and stop in the Afternoon or evening and they mostly ask more what someone is doing in the evening or after work/ school... than what he or she is doing in the afternoon.

The "Nachmittag" is often seen as a time like a bridge between the middle of the day and the evening where old people eat cakes and coffee or children have a short time together till they have to be at home and things like that.


Nachmittag can still be quite useful to state a time span like "Ich saß den ganzen Nachmittag in Meetings" or "Was machst Du am Samstag Nachmittag, wollen wir Radfahren gehen/ein Fußballspiel anschauen?". Those are totally common phrases for me...

I can't remember that I've ever heard it in a greeting like "Guten Nachmittag", though.

  • 1618

The thing is that Guten Tag is not too general for a German. Wenn du in Rom bist....

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