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Is It Correct to Say “Good Afternoon All”?

In any language, it’s essential to know how to address people. However, when talking to groups of people, it can sometimes be challenging to know what greetings to choose, so how about the greeting “Good afternoon, all”? Is it grammatically correct, and when can we use it appropriately?

It’s correct to say “Good afternoon all” if you greet a group of people after midday and before evening. The indefinite pronoun “all” encompasses everyone present — or everyone receiving the communication in writing — and would be appropriate in a polite but informal setting.

This article will explore the meaning of the salutation “Good afternoon, all” and how we can use it. We’ll also look more broadly at salutations in English and the use of the indefinite pronoun.

What Does “Good Afternoon All” Mean?

In the English language, we use “afternoon” when it’s after 11:59 a.m. and before sunset. Saying “Good afternoon all” means that you are greeting multiple people or a group when you first see them during the afternoon and means the same thing as “Good afternoon, everyone” (source).

The salutation “Good afternoon” without any pronouns is more formal and familiar. Some think it originated as an abbreviation of the original saying, “I wish you a good afternoon.” When we add “all,” we refer to the whole group someone addresses, and most use it in a collegial way.

Here are some situations where we might use “Good afternoon, all”:

  • In a work environment: “Good afternoon, all; Let’s start the next session now.”
  • Teacher entering a class: “Good afternoon, all; please take out your books.”
  • When giving a speech: “Good afternoon, all; welcome to Jack’s retirement party.”
  • In a public place greeting unknown people: “Good afternoon, all!”

Indefinite Pronoun “All”

In the context of this greeting, “all” is an indefinite pronoun, which means that it takes the place of a noun while not referring to a specific person or thing (source).

When we say “Good afternoon, all,” we greet everyone in a particular group. The group includes all those who are listening or receiving the communication. In this specific context, “all” and “everybody” or “everyone” are interchangeable.

If we use “all” in the greeting at the beginning of an email, for example, we would refer to everyone the email addresses. If it’s spoken, then we’re addressing everyone present. If there’s any doubt about who it includes, it would be wiser to be more specific.

For more on this topic, read our article “Is it Grammatically Correct to Say ‘Dear All’?

“All” vs. Everybody and Everyone

In the context of “Good afternoon, all,” we can substitute “everybody” or “everyone” for “all,” and the meaning will remain the same. Here we are referring to the totality of people. 

However, this is not always the case because “everybody” and “everyone” can only refer to people, while “all” can work for objects as well as people. Another difference is that we use a plural verb with “all” and a singular verb with “everyone” and “everything.”

Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Good Afternoon All”?

It is grammatically correct to say “Good afternoon, all” when greeting a large group of people. It is technically not a sentence because it doesn’t contain a subject or verb,  but we would classify it as a salutation. 

A salutation is a type of exclamatory sentence that functions as a greeting, generally at the beginning of a written communication or speech (source). 

If the greeting is in writing, you should use a comma after “Good afternoon” because there should always be a comma between the greeting and the person/people you’re addressing. In the same way that you should write “Good afternoon, Jane,” you should also write “Good afternoon, all.”

Which Is Correct: “Good Noon” or “Good Afternoon”?

Noon is a specific point in time of 12:00 at midday (source). Any time after that would be “afternoon.” It’s not grammatically correct to say “Good Noon,” and the correct choice would always be to say, “Good afternoon.”

We don’t use “good” with any specific point in time and would likewise never say “good midnight.” However, we can pair any period of time with “good” to mean “I wish you a good day/morning/afternoon/evening.”

How Do You Use “Good Afternoon All”?

We use “Good afternoon, all” when it is clear who the “all” includes and when the greeting occurs in the afternoon. It would be unlikely to use this salutation in written communication unless it was to a small group aware of whom was receiving it.

In What Context Can You Use “Good Afternoon All”?

“Good afternoon, all” is usually a greeting to a group of people at the start of a speech or meeting or, sometimes, it’s an opener in written communication. When functioning in the correct context, everyone must know who the “all” refers to. It always applies to more than one person, and it’s polite but not overly formal. 

As with many other greetings, “Good afternoon, all” can also work as a farewell or closing statement. For example, you could say, “Good afternoon all,” at the end of a speech or meeting or even as you leave the office for the day.

When Can You Use “Good Afternoon All”?

The sentence “Good afternoon, all” can function in any situation where you want to greet a group of people in a friendly yet polite way during the afternoon. We would most often use it in spoken settings, but we might use it in specific written communication too. 

The salutation would often apply in work, school, or other settings addressing a large group. For instance, you may walk into a meeting or assembly and say, “Good afternoon, all,” to refer to all the people in the room.

When Not to Use a “Good Afternoon All”?

The most obvious time not to use this salutation is when it isn’t afternoon. If it were a different time of day, you could use “good morning” or “good evening” instead. Also, you should avoid using it when it isn’t clear who the “all” encompasses.

When we use “all” in this context, we refer to all the members of a specific group. If it is all the people in a room, then it would be appropriate, but if we are only talking to some of the people present, it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Using it in written communication, such as an email, would only be appropriate if the recipients know who the “all” refers to. If this isn’t clear, it would be better to spell out who it addresses and use something like “Good afternoon, board members” or something similarly specific.

“Good afternoon, all” is a polite greeting, so it may not be appropriate in a very casual setting, such as with friends. Here, you’d likely choose something more casual, such as “Hello everyone.”

Additionally, you wouldn’t use “Good afternoon, all” in a very formal setting because the “all” would be too generic, and you would need to address your audience more intentionally. In a formal setting, you could still say “Good afternoon” but would follow it with something more specific than a generic “all.”

Is It Professional to Say Good Afternoon All?

There is nothing wrong with using “Good Afternoon, all” in a professional environment so long as the context is clear. However, because the pronoun “all” is indefinite, its use can sound somewhat impersonal, so it’s important that the context is appropriate. 

In a work environment, you can avoid the risk of sounding rude by being more specific in your greeting. For example, you could say “Good afternoon, colleagues” or “Good afternoon, fellow doctors” or anything more specific.

If you address a group of people in a formal environment, it may be more appropriate to say, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.” Your opening greeting, whether in writing or spoken, will set the tone for what follows and can work to show respect to whomever receives your message.

Using “Good Afternoon All” in a Full Sentence

The phrase “Good afternoon, all” can also function as a full sentence. Most often, this would be in written dialogue.

Consider the examples below.

  • Good afternoon, all, and welcome to our Sunday show.
  • Good afternoon, all, and thank you for donating money for childhood cancer.
  • “Good afternoon, all,” said the principal to the assembled students.

What Can You Use Instead of “Good Afternoon All”?

If you’re not sure if it’s appropriate to use “Good afternoon, all,” you can try avoiding the phrase completely by using an alternative. You can use many substitutes for “all” and many greetings instead of “Good afternoon.”

If you want to be more specific, you could abandon “all” and use any of the following:

  • Good afternoon, everyone.
  • Good afternoon, students.
  • Good afternoon, colleagues.
  • Good afternoon, friends.

If it isn’t afternoon, or if you think the greeting sounds too formal, then you could use any of the following:

  • Hello, everyone.
  • Greetings, everybody!
  • Welcome, students!
  • Greetings, all.
Image by Austin Distel via Unsplash

Formal vs. Informal Speech and Writing 

We often speak about formal and informal language, and it’s important to understand that they differ in tone, structure, and choice of words. 

In general, formal language that we would use in professional and academic environments is less personal. It avoids colloquialisms and contractions and doesn’t make use of first-person personal pronouns (source). 

Informal language, by contrast, is much more casual and is best when communicating with family or friends or even in informal business environments. Here, the tone is more personal. 

Here are some examples to illustrate the difference between formal and informal language. 
Informal language: The changes can’t be implemented due to the impending lawsuit. Formal language: The changes cannot be implemented due to the impending lawsuit. 

Informal language: She’ll never get over her mentor’s death. 

Formal language: She will never recover from the death of her mentor.

Informal language: I floated a few research methods for this study.

Formal language: A few research methods were considered for this study.

In the case of “Good morning,” we would see this as a formal salutation, so we might avoid it in casual contexts where you would more easily just say, “hello.” However, the use of “all” in “Good morning, all” is potentially too vague, and there are other choices that would be more formal.

Greetings and Salutations

Greetings and salutations are an important part of any language, and we use them daily in both professional and personal contexts. A greeting can be just a nod of the head, a kiss, a handshake, or a wink, but it can also be spoken or written. 

There’s a lot of history behind the greetings we use in English, and context is very important in choosing the correct one. Greetings can be formal or informal, depending on the status and environment of the people interacting.

A greeting is something friendly or polite you say when you encounter another person or a group of people (source). It’s an act of communication between humans to intentionally show attention and the status of their relationship. 

What Type of Clause Are Greetings?

When we use salutations such as “Good afternoon, all,” it’s useful to know what part of a sentence it is and which of the following four basic clause types it fits under.

Clause TypeExample
Declarative (statements)The dog is brown.
Jane is married to Tom.
Interrogative (questions)Where is your passport?
Do you like apples?
Imperative (orders/instructions)Sit on the chair.
Have some chocolate.
Exclamative (exclamations or interjections)Good morning!

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Grammarians classify salutations as exclamations or interjections. Exclamative clauses generally express an emotion, and we often follow them with an exclamation point. Sometimes, they are just one or two words, and then we call them interjections.

Final Thoughts 

Because we use greetings every day, it’s important to get them right and understand when and how to use salutations such as “Good afternoon, all.”  

“Good afternoon” is a formal way to greet someone in the afternoon, and the choice of “all” encompasses a broad group of people. There are many alternatives to choose from if you want to be more personal and informal.