Good morning everyone! Hmm, a time-of-day specific salutation like ‘good morning’ doesn’t make much sense on a blog page that can be read in any time-zone and at any time of day after it’s been published does it? Here in Brazil, time-of-day-specific salutations come in 3 flavours:
Bom dia (sounds like ‘bown JEE-ya’) – Good morning
Boa tarde (sounds like ‘boa TAHR-je’) – Good afternoon
Boa noite (sounds like ‘boa NOY-tche’) – Good night
And already I’ve run into trouble. “Bom dia” literally means ‘good day’, but it is used in the way that English speakers say ‘good morning’ (i.e. not used after midday). Also, I’ve translated “boa noite” as ‘good night’, but it is also used in the way that English speakers would say ‘good evening’. Everyone still with me?
Back in England I know instinctively when to switch from ‘good afternoon’ to ‘good evening’ – around 5.30pm – but here in Brazil, I am far less sure about when to make the switch from ‘Boa tarde’ to ‘Boa noite’.
For some reason it always seems to be taxi drivers who correct me when I get it wrong (and they appear to take great pleasure in doing so I might add!). However, seeing as several taxi drivers have wished me ‘bom dia’ at just a few minutes past midnight, I’m not sure I’m going to take too many lessons from them!
The Definitive Rules of Salutation
“Bom dia” se fala depois que o sol nasceu. You say ‘Bom dia’ after the sun has risen.
“Boa noite” se fala depois que escureceu. You ‘Boa noite’ after it has got dark.
“Boa tarde” se fala depois que almoçou. You say ‘Boa tarde’ after you’ve had lunch.
- As 04:00 eu vou falar boa noite, sim, Sr. Taxista. At 4am I will say ‘boa noite’, yes Mr Taxi driver!
- 18:30 no horario de verão é boa tarde. At 6.30pm in summer it is ‘boa tarde’.
- Se eu acordar 14:00 é bom dia sim. If I wake up at 2pm, I’ll say ‘bom dia’.
- Tarde não é noite, então está permitido falar “Bom dia” mesmo depois do almoço. Afternoon is not night, so it’s permitted to say ‘bom dia’ after lunch too.
- Gente que trabalha em local fechado e não consegue saber se já escureceu fala o que quiser a qualquer hora. People who work in a closed environment and can’t tell if it’s dark yet can say whatever they like at any time.
I think that clears things up nicely – thanks Mira! I may have to get a set of these rules printed off to present to the next taxi driver who has a problem with my greeting. If this all seems like too much complication, why not try the Trueman Approach? Have a good weekend people!