If you’re from the U.S. and want to invite a friend from England to your wedding, for example, you’ll want to be very clear when expressing the date.
Writing out the month will probably be your best bet, but we’ll discuss that in more detail below.
How to Write Dates in a Sentence
To avoid confusion, learn the different formats available for writing dates and how you can make yourself clear no matter who will read it.
Generally speaking, years should be written with numerals, except when they are used to start a sentence.
- Today is September 26, 2019.
- In 2008, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States.
- Nineteen sixty-nine was the year man first set foot on the moon.
Month and Day
There are several formats to choose from when writing the month and day, which is also why things can get confusing.
In the first format, month-day-year, a comma should be placed between the day and the year. Note that when the month is spelled out using the month-day-year format, only cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3…) should be used, not ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd…).
Correct: September 26, 2019
Incorrect: September 26th, 2019
The exception to the above rule is when “of” is used.
- He was born on the 15th of March.
Day of the Week
If you want to specify the day of the week, introduce the day of the week first and separate it from the rest of the date with a comma.
- Today is Saturday, September 25, 2019.
- I was born on Tuesday, August 11, 1995.
Other Date Formats
While the month-day-year format is the most common in the United States, other countries and regions use different formats.
In Europe and the UK, for example, the most common format is day-month-year.
- Her date of birth is 29/11/1994.
- Today is 26 September 2019.
Note in the example above that when using the day-month-year format, you should not include a comma between the month and year.
In Asia, most countries use the year-month-day format.
- Her date of birth is 1994/11/29.
Know the Cultural Differences
Numeral-only formats are not usually ideal for formal writing, but in more casual circumstances, such as correspondence between friends, the numerical format might be more convenient.
However, it’s important to keep in mind the cultural differences that we noted earlier. If you write frequently with people outside of your geographic region, you may wish to be more clear by spelling the month out.
For example, if I am American and I want to invite my friend from England to my wedding on 10/5/2020, it might be best for me to write “October 5, 2020” or “5 October 2020,” lest I want her to show up on May 10.
As someone who has learned the hard way while living abroad, I can tell you that this extra clarification can really save the day.
Proper Date Formats
Dates can be extremely important pieces of information, especially when you’re signing documents or sending invitations.
By knowing how to write dates properly in both sentences and in numerals, you can communicate more effectively and avoid any potential confusion for your readers.
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