LAST NIGHT and YESTERDAY EVENING are both adverbs meaning "during the previous day's evening or nighttime" or nouns often used adverbially. "Last night" means the evening or night immediately before the present and "yesterday evening" is the evening of the day preceding today

"I couldn't sleep last night."
"Last night was wonderful. Can I see you again?"
"I tried to get in touch with you yesterday evening."

LAST EVENING (and even "last afternoon") is also used by some people, but it is much less common than the two aforementioned terms.

"We had a lot of work last evening."

"Last night" is far more common than "yesterday evening" and "last evening" is rarer still, but that doesn't make "yesterday evening" wrong. That said, you would probably only use it only if it was relevant to specify the event happened early in the evening or contrast evening with night.

"We had a lot of fun last night." 
"We had a lot of fun yesterday evening, but the rest of the night was a disaster."

The usage of "evening" in place of "night" adds formality. "How is your night going?" or "Will you be coming tonight?" are less formal than "How is your evening going?" or "Will you be coming this evening?".

"I tried to get in touch with you yesterday evening."
"Long delays continued through the day and into yesterday evening."

In AmE both terms seem to be interchangeable. "I went dancing yesterday evening" and "I went dancing last night" are both used. However, the latter is more commonly used when referring to nighttime hours. 

"We stayed home last night and watched TV until bed time."
"After I'd finished work yesterday evening, I called in at the supermarket to buy some wine before driving home."

"Yesterday evening" is more commonly used by older people in America, whereas younger people use "last night" almost exclusively.

"Did you hear that terrible thunderstorm last night? It woke me up."

YESTERDAY NIGHT, according to some sources, is a valid noun phrase, however awkward. It can't help triggering some cognitive dissonance because "yesterday" implies "day" rather than "night". Ngram shows "last night" being somewhere around 8,000 times more common than "yesterday night", which is hardly what you'd expect of something that was standard usage.

NOTE: in Southern US "evening" can refer to the time of the day from noon to twilight.


I love to write, but I’m not so crazy about grammar.

Learning about words that dangle, split, and get misplaced isn’t my idea of fun.

However, as an English major in college, I had it drilled into my head that poor grammar revealed laziness and a lack of respect for the reader. It’s the literary form of bad manners and exposes the writer as someone who isn’t serious about the craft.

If you’re an author, particularly a self-published author, you need to do everything possible to win your readers’ hearts and minds. When they are distracted by grammatical errors or confused by the meaning of a sentence, they aren’t likely to buy your next book — or finish the one they are reading.


As tedious as grammar may be to those of us who just want to write, it is well-worth a few minutes of your time to refresh the basics and make sure you don’t fall into one of the problematic grammar traps.
Our English Club
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writer and blogger, founder of ESL Tips .

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