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I have a question about the meaning of "all day", because "day" could mean both "daytime = until 1800 hours" or "24 hours".

Let's say it started raining this morning and it is now 8 pm and still raining. Can I say: "it has been raining all day" or do I have to use a different construction like, for example, "it has been raining since this morning" because it is now evening and daytime has ended?

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    All day is generally used very loosely. People will say I've been busy/working all day when they want to emphasise their labours, regardless of how many hours are involved. So you can use all day to mean whatever you wish. If you want to be specific, you should say from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. or something similar. Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 20:05
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    @Ronald Sole So "all day" can be used in the evening?
    – anouk
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 20:22
  • Nobody bothered to respond at all when essentially the same question was posted last year as “the whole day” vs. “all day”, so I can't cite that one in a "Duplicate" closevote. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 18:04

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For the current day, you can use "all day" referring for the entire day up to the current point. Although it will sound odd if used before noon as most people would use "all morning" until then.

For previous days, as it is kind of nebulous and can mean "every single minute from midnight to midnight", "most of the day", or somewhere in between, depending on the context.

The only real caveat I can think of is if you were using it as part of an excuse, you might get called out if it isn't accurate. For example:

Did you go get that stuff from the other building like I asked?

I couldn't. It was raining all day.

Dude, come on. It was a five minute job and it stopped raining for like an hour around noon.

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"All day" is generally used very loosely. People will say "I've been busy/working all day" when they want to emphasise their labours, regardless of how many hours are involved. So you can use all day to mean whatever you wish. If you want to be specific, you should say from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. or something similar (r.sole)

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A restaurant may have a breakfast menu which is available until their lunch menu starts. This could be noon, or just before.

Some restaurants might offer a breakfast past midday, perhaps until they close. In this case they would refer to it as an All Day Breakfast.

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