At which hour does the following start?

1) ночи (genitive of ночь, night)

2) утра (genitive of утро, morning)

3) дня (genitive of день, day or afternoon)

4) вечера (genitive of вечер, evening)

My sources give conflicting information.

  • Someone recently quoted an antique etiquette guide: "Morning visits should be paid between 3 and 5 PM". : D
    – bipll
    Jun 13, 2016 at 7:51
  • 1
    Sometimes "wrong" word might be used with an hour indication for humorous purpose like here: > Однажды в воскресенье в шесть часов ночи мне позвонил армейский друг: - Привет, как дела? Ты спал? This use of words also hints the reader that the story teller had received this phone call when he was sleeping and had not intention to wake up in a near future.
    – user244413
    Jun 13, 2016 at 20:00
  • You might consider adding stresses. Some people might not know which letters to stress.
    – L_Pav
    Jun 13, 2016 at 21:22

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, there is no firm rule about that. From my experience I can say that:

  1. In interval [00:00 ; 04:00) it is "ночи".

  2. In interval [04:00 ; 05:00) it can be either "ночи" or "утра".

  3. In interval [05:00 ; 12:00) it is "утра".

  4. 12:00 is usually "дня", but sometimes can be "утра".

  5. In interval (12:00 ; 17:00) it is "дня".

  6. In interval [17:00 ; 23:00) it is "вечера".

  7. In interval [23:00 ; 12:00) it can be either "вечера" or "ночи".

Note that these rules work when you tell the time in straightforward way, using only numbers. For example, 16:45 = "четыре сорок пять дня"; 23:30 = "одиннадцать тридцать вечера". But if you use special style designed for telling time, then hour part is essential, no matter how many minutes are there before or after it. For example, 16:45 = "без четверти пять вечера" (not "дня"); 23:30 = "пол-двенадцатого ночи" (not "вечера"); 03:05 can be "пять минут четвертого утра", etc.


More or less like this

  • Hочь - 23:00 - 05:00
  • Утро - 05:00 - 12:00 (with 05:00 - 07:00 usually indicated as "раннее утро")
  • День - 12:00 - 17:00
  • Вечер - 17:00 - 23:00 (with anytime later than 22:00 usually referred as "поздний вечер")

One important thing to keep in mind - while "доброе утро", "добрый день"/"доброго дня", "добрый вечер"/"доброго вечера" are just regular greetings, nothing special with them, "доброй ночи" is something usually told to somebody who is going to sleep right now. That said, it's pretty different from "have a good night" one can hear leaving office at 10pm in USA.

Also it's worth to mention that this, of course, is very contextual. At winter, when sun goes down earlier you easily can hear "Добрый вечер" at 17:00 and even earlier.


Considering all other answers, nobody actually says "17 часов вечера".
This additional information like "ночи" оr "утра" is used when you tell the time in 12h format and not in 24h format:

5 часов вечера is like 5. p.m.= 17:00
or 9 часов утра = 9 a.m.

So basically this is an extended version of "a.m." and "p.m."
It is also often used as a rhetoric device to intensify or emphasize the aspect of time:

Он слушает громкую музыку в 2 часа ночи! = He is listening to loud music at 2 o'clock at night!

  • both Yandex and Google provide a lot of examples of actual usage of "17 часов вечера" so this is just wrong
    – shabunc
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:25
  • 1
    but it is not correct only because some stupid people say it or non native speakers ask, if you can say it.
    – Marat
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:29
  • 2
    I concur, "дня/вечера" are only used with 12-hours, not 24-hours.
    – alamar
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:57
  • @Marat - you didn't claimed it's grammatical or not (or doesn't make sense or whatever) , you've assumed that nobody actually says it, but this contradicts to statistics of usage.
    – shabunc
    Jun 14, 2016 at 9:18
  • okay, shabunc, lets play your game. Your google results only prove that someone has written "17 часов вечера", but it is not a prove for someone having ever said "17 часов вечера". You know the difference between saying and writing? Its your turn, голубчик.
    – Marat
    Jun 14, 2016 at 10:15

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