expressions · speaking

How to Write and Say Dates in English

Something really important and that I haven’t discussed with you yet is how to say and write dates in English.
I’ll also review with you about the differences in saying and writing dates in British and in American English.
Let’s start by looking at an email.

Is this email correct?

Hi Angelo,

Are you free on Friday the 14th?

Let me know,

Nora

Well, it’s not absolutely wrong, but you should actually write: Friday 14.

When you speak, you say: “Friday fourteenth.” (Friday the fourteenth is said too.)

And how about this then?

You ask your friend when his exam is.

He says: “On April 15.”

Is that okay?

No, it isn’t. You should say: fifteenth.

Writing? Use Cardinal Numbers

So when you write, you write normal numbers. These are called cardinal numbers: 1,2,3, etc.

Speaking? Use Ordinal Numbers

When you speak, you say the numbers with th at the end. They’re called ordinal numbers. But watch out: first (1st) , second (2nd) and third (3rd) are different!

Now have a look at this handy infographic to check the spelling of numbers.

The spelling of numbers is just for your information, because when you write dates, you don’t write the numbers in letters. When writing dates, always write the numbers in digits.

Dates and numbers

Also read this funny article about why Americans say and write the dates with the month first.

independence day By the way, did you know that Americans used to say the days before the months once? This is why they still say the Fourth of July, which is the American Independence Day.

Now try the quiz!

Quiz

Do this quiz online here and check your answers. 

How do you say or write this?

1 Write: Today is 29 March. How do you say this?

The 29th of March (in British English).

29th of March (in American English).

2 Write: Tomorrow is 30 March. How do you spell 30th?

Thirtieth

Thirtyiet

Thirtyth

3 Write: My favourite day in the year is 1 May. How do you say this in British English?

The first of May.

The oneth of May.

4 Write: My birthday is on August 22. How do you say this in American English?

August 22th.

August twenty-twoth.

August twenty-second.

5 Write: My mother’s birthday is on 13 October. How do you say this?

The 13th of October (in British English).

The 13rd of October (in British English).

6 Write: I’m starting a new job on April 1. How do you say this in American English?

April first.

First of April.

7 Say: The day we met was the 25th of January. How do you write this in British style?

The 25th of January.

25 January.

The 25 January.

8 Say: So we’ll plan the meeting for November 31th. How do you write this in American style?

November thirty-one.

November 31.

November thirty-first.

9 Say: There is a big event on the twentieth of September. How do you write this in British style?

Twentieth of September.

The 20 of September.

20 September.

10 Say: My vacation starts on July twelfth. How do you write this in American style?

July 12.

July 12th.

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