Dates in English

Dates are a really important element of our daily lives. We make appointments, plan a city trip, go on a long holiday, … All of these will normally take place sometime in the future. This means that everyone uses dates to talk about important events and to make plans for the future.

As is the case in other languages, English has a specific set of expressions to talk about dates and years. There are a few different ways of writing and saying them. You can find an extensive overview of those different ways below.

For more information about numbers, click here.

Pronouncing dates

When someone talks about dates, he or she can talk about years or about specific moments in a year. In English, there are clear differences between these two and the differences are explained below.

Years

Years can be read in different ways, depending on what year it is you’re talking about. There are a couple of rules and you can see some examples in the following table:

YearPronunciation
1800eighteen hundred
1950nineteen fifty
1806eighteen o six
2000two thousand
2015two thousand and fifteen / twenty fifteen
Dates in English Taalhulp Engels

If you have a year that consists of 3 numerals, you need to say the number of the hundreds first, followed by the number of the last two numerals. If you do this, you would say:

‘… hundred and …’.

325three hundred and twenty-five
689six hundred and eighty-nine
897eight hundred and ninety-seven
235two hundred and thirty-five

If you are dealing with a year that consists of 4 numerals, you divide it into two parts. First, you mention the number of the first two numerals, followed by the number of the last two. For example:

1776seventeen seventy-six
1830eighteen thirty
1423fourteen twenty-three
1066ten sixty-six

If you want to talk about a year before Christ, you use ‘BC’ and put it after the year. ‘BC’ literally means before Christ. For example:

235 BCtwo hundred and thirty-five before Christ
652 BCsix hundred and fifty-two before Christ
60 BCsixty before Christ

When you want to talk about a year after Christ, you put ‘AD’ before the year, or you could just leave it as it is; without the ‘AD’. When it’s a year without ‘AD’ or ‘BC’, everyone knows you mean after Christ. ‘AD’ means ‘Anno Domini’ and translates as ‘in the year of the Lord’.

AD 567five hundred and sixty-seven after Christ
465four hundred and sixty-five
AD 1745seventeen forty-five after Christ

Dates

If you want to talk about a specific date in a year, you can do that in two different ways. Let’s say you finally meet your best friend and you want to tell her all about your plans for an upcoming city trip to London. If you want to say that you are going to London on 5/10/2020, you can do this in two different ways:

  • I’m going to London on the fifth of October twenty twenty.
  • I’m going to London on October the fifth, twenty twenty.

If you want to talk about a specific date, you need to add <th> after the number of the day. Some examples:

Dates in English Taalhulp Engels
8/10/2020the eighth of October twenty twenty
October the eighth, twenty twenty
7/3/1993the seventh of March nineteen ninety-three
March the seventh, nineteen ninety-three
4/2/2001the fourth of February two thousand and one
February the fourth, two thousand and one
5/12/1066the fifth of December ten sixty-six
December the fifth, ten sixty-six

Writing dates

Years

Years are usually written in numbers, as you can see in the examples above. It would make things a lot more complicated and more difficult to read if everyone always wrote years in words.

Dates

Things are more complicated when talking about specific dates, but nothing that can’t be done. In essence, there are five different ways in which you can write particular dates. Below, you can see how 5/10/2020 can be written in English.

5th October 2020
October 5th 2020
5 October 2020
October 5, 2020
05/10/2020 (of 10/05/2020 in American English)
Note: Americans put the month first when writing the date in numbers.
Dates in English Taalhulp Engels

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