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RandomMrAdam's avatar

Is the statement "last evening" phrased correctly?

Asked by RandomMrAdam (1645points) June 3rd, 2009

I was talking with a friend and he said that he did something last evening but I told him it is more accurate to say last night or yesterday evening. I know it is proper English to say last night or yesterday evening but is last evening correct?

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10 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

I don’t agree with your claim that your suggestion is more accurate, as all of the phrases successfully identify the time as being the evening of the previous day. Yours is certainly more common, but there is nothing wrong with saying “last evening”.

If you replace evening with afternoon or morning, it becomes a bit more obvious that it’s not a widespread occurrence of the form (“last morning” sounds awkward, “yesterday morning” is simpler), but “last evening” is not something I would personally correct a friend about.

I would not suggest “last night” as a viable alternative, as perhaps the person was specifying that the event happened in the evening as opposed to the night. This forum post agrees. “Yesterday evening” is the way I would phrase it personally.

As far as I can research here, “last evening” is not obviously incorrect.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@dynamicduo The posts claims that using last night is more correct in phrasing if you read it all the way through. It seems as though last evening is very uncommonly used.

This discussion you linked seems to be how to use proper English, and at the end it says to use either “last night” or “yesterday evening” in most applicable situations… So I am assuming it is less accurate to say last evening.

RandomMrdan's avatar

Either one gets the point across, I’d say it’s preference. I don’t hear “Yesterday Evening” all that much, it sounds a bit off. “Last Night” sounds like something I would say. If I was trying to be specific about a part of the night I would say one of these two statements:

“Last night around about 7 o’clock I did….”
“Yesterday at about 7 o’clock I did…”

“Last evening at about 7 o’clock I did…” – just doesn’t sound right to me.

I won’t say it’s incorrect, but some are just easier to say for others, and flows better, in my opinion. It still gets the point across, whether it’s accurate or not, well I’m not an English major.

ubersiren's avatar

Sure it’s proper English. There’s nothing grammatically wrong with it. It’s just perhaps not used as often as your suggestions, though I have heard it.

dynamicduo's avatar

@RandomMrAdam Yes, but that was just one online discussion. There is no czar of English who makes final rulings, the language evolves over time. I don’t think you will be able to determine if it’s truly accurate or not.

marinelife's avatar

It may be less common, but it is only a matter of preference. Last evening is not wrong or less accurate.

gailcalled's avatar

It’s proper but not idiomatic; what makes terms or expressions part of the common parlance is mysterious and changing. “Last evening” is a perfect example.

Accurate? Yes.
Awkward or grating? Yes, to me at least.

cyn's avatar

It is meant what it is meant to be…does this make sense?

Darwin's avatar

Last evening sounds a bit formal or old fashioned to me. Not incorrect, just not commonly used.

If it helps any, the New York Times uses last evening.

Jeruba's avatar

There is nothing wrong with it. I would say it and do say it routinely. (“I spent last evening with Bill” is an altogether different statement from “I spent last night with Bill.”) I think your friend deserves to hear that the correction was misguided.

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