I'm studying Japanese N5 through the Genki 1 textbook, and it shows that the word for tonight is "今晩,” but when I look at the Anki flashcard set that I'm also using to study, it shows that 今晩 means "evening." Can anyone help me with this?

2 Answers 2


The word/kanji 晩 mainly refers to several hours after the sunset ("evening"), while 夜 generally refers to the time after the sunset and before the dawn ("night").

  • We say 夜が明ける ("dawn breaks") and 夜遅く ("late at night"), but not 晩が明ける or 晩遅く.
  • 晩飯 and 晩ご飯 refer to something you eat around 19:00 ("evening meal" or "supper"), while 夜食 refers to something you eat around 24:00 ("night meal" or "bedtime snack").
  • However, 一晩を過ごす means "spend the night", so 晩 can mean "(all) night" depending on the context.

In the case of 今夜 vs 今晩, the difference is very small. When you refer to 9:00 p.m., both 今晩9時 and 今夜9時 are perfectly fine. However, because of the tendency above, when you refer to 3:00 a.m., I feel 今夜3時 sounds slightly more natural. Very few people would say 今晩3時 is unnatural or wrong, though.

  • Thank you, I understand now! Commented May 1 at 3:00
  • @Aeasela2339_ Note that 今晩 is always "this evening" (or "tonight"), not just "evening".
    – naruto
    Commented May 1 at 3:09

The 今 character refers to the present time (by itself, it's いま). 晩 can refer to both the evening time and nighttime in general. So together you get the sense of evening or nighttime that's happening now, i.e. "this evening" or "tonight." "Evening" by itself for 今晩 is incorrect. I take it you're using a pre-made Anki deck?

今夜 is synonymous; there isn't really much difference between the two.

See also Jisho or Wiktionary if you want to explore the kanji or definition more.

  • I see, thank you! Commented May 1 at 0:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .