4 : dates
1. Expressing dates in English
This is a point on which British English and American English differ.
When dates are expressed in words, this is not a problem, as the use of
full words will identify the date with no possible ambiguity.
Writing dates in figures
When writing dates in figures, it
can be vital to know whether one is
writing for British (or European) readers or American readers. If there
is any doubt,
or if one is writing for an international readership, it may be
necessary to use words rather than figures, in order to avoid ambiguity.
The confusion is possible with all dates between 1st and 12th of each
month: from the thirteenth of the month onwards, no confusion is
possible... for obvious reasons.
means "the fourth of May 2015" in British English
but it means "April fifth 2015" in American English
Written and spoken dates
Any date can be written or spoken in several different ways, using
figures or a combination of figures and words.
It is important to note that in spoken
English, dates normally include the words the and of : these are not
20th May 2015
not consistent. While American always write numerical dates using the
order Month > Day > Year, America's national
Independence day, is commonly known as '"The fourth of July"
"July Fourth"; and Oliver Stone's 1989 movie is entitled "Born on the
Fourth of July".
version: British or American English: The
twentieth of May 2015
version: American English: May twentieth 2015, or May the
version: British English: 20th May 2015 or 20 May 2015
version: American English: May twentieth 2015 or May 20
may also use the American form as in "May the twentieth", but when
writing, the logical order Day > Month > Year
British and American English, years are generally expressed in spoken
English as two two-digit numbers. The only exceptions are years ending
in -00 to -09
use of "Two thousand and...." for years following 2000 was common at
the start of the millennium, but has now almost been lost in British
English, and is fading in American English, as Americans return to the
more traditional format.
Twenty oh-seven (or two thousand and seven)
dates, it is common to abbreviate the months of the year to three
letters normally followed by a full stop or period. September can be
reduced to three or four letters.
Feb. Mar. Apr. May
Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. or Sept.
Oct. Nov. Dec.
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