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Linguapress English Grammar

Expressing dates in English

 Numbers 4 : dates

Other numbers pages : Numbers - cardinals Numbers - ordinals Fractions and decimals

Lots of differences... 

 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.

04/05/2021  means "the fourth of May 2021" in British English
   but it means "April fifth 2021" in American English
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

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 normally written.
Example:  20th May 2018
Spoken version: British or American English: The twentieth of May twenty-eighteen
Spoken version: American English: May twentieth 2018, or May the twentieth 2018
Written version: British English: 20th May 2018 or 20 May 2018
Written version: American English: May twentieth 2018 or May 20 2018
Interestingly, American usage is not consistent. While Americans always write numerical dates using the order Month > Day > Year,  America's national holiday, Independence day, is  commonly known as '"The fourth of July" or "July Fourth"; and Oliver Stone's 1989 movie is entitled "Born on the Fourth of July".
   British speakers may also use the American form as in "May the twentieth", but when writing, the logical order Day > Month > Year  is always used.

In both 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
2015  Twenty fifteen
2007  Twenty oh-seven (or two thousand and seven)
2000  Two thousand
1995  Nineteen ninety-five
1776  Seventeen seventy-six
The 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.

Abbreviating dates

When writing 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.
Jan.   Feb.  Mar.  Apr.  May  Jun.  Jul.   Aug.  Sep. or Sept.  Oct. Nov. Dec.

Index : Numbers - cardinals Numbers - ordinals Fractions and decimals

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Cette page en français:
Les dates en anglais

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