Telling the Date

For all ESL levels

Americans write and say dates differently from people in other countries. Do you know how to write and say dates correctly?

How to Write the Date

Americans always give the month first, the day second, and the year last. There are several different ways we can write it.

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

  • March 27, 2016
  • March 27th, 2016
  • 03/27/2016 or 03-27-2016
  • 3/27/16 or 3-27-16

You can use a slash (/) or a hyphen (-) between the numbers. There is no difference. When you write the name of the month, you must use a comma (,) after the date.

Sometimes, you will see instructions for writing the date that look like this:

MM/DD/YYYY

The M means month, the D means day, and the Y means year. If a website or form asks for a date like this, you should use two numbers for the month (01, 09, 11, etc.), two numbers for the date (07, 10, 29, etc.), and four numbers for the year (1982, 2016, etc.).

Sometimes the instructions look like this:

MM/DD/YY

Do you see the difference? In this case, you only use the LAST two numbers of the year – 82 (not 1982) or 16 (not 2016).

When you write the date in _ _ / _ _ / _ _ _ _ format, it is VERY important that you write the MONTH first and the DAY second.

How to Say the Date

Americans usually do not write “st,” “nd,” “rd,” or “th” (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) on the date, but we ALWAYS say it. If you write, “3/27/2016,” you say, “March twenty-seventh, twenty-sixteen” (you can also say, “two thousand-sixteen”). Here is how we write and pronounce all the dates.

**We only add -st, -nd, -rd, and -th to the pronunciation of numbers in dates.**

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

  1. first
  2. second
  3. third
  4. fourth
  5. fifth
  6. sixth
  7. seventh
  8. eighth
  9. ninth
  10. tenth
  11. eleventh
  12. twelfth
  13. thirteenth
  14. fourteenth
  15. fifteenth
  16. sixteenth
  17. seventeenth
  18. eighteenth
  19. nineteenth
  20. twentieth
  21. twenty-first
  22. twenty-second
  23. twenty-third
  24. twenty-fourth
  25. twenty-fifth
  26. twenty-sixth
  27. twenty-seventh
  28. twenty-eighth
  29. twenty-ninth
  30. thirtieth
  31. thirty-first

When we say years, we usually say the first two numbers together and the last two numbers together. If the year is 1982, we say the first two numbers – nineteen – and the last two numbers – eighty-two.

  • 1980 – nineteen eighty
  • 1776 – seventeen seventy-six
  • 1430 – fourteen thirty
  • 2016 – twenty sixteen

If there are zeros in the middle of the year (2002), the rules change a little. Here is how we say 2000 years:

  • 2000 – two thousand
  • 2001 – two thousand one
  • 2002 – two thousand two

Here is how we say other years:

  • 1903 – nineteen oh three
  • 1409 – fourteen oh nine
  • 1207 – twelve oh seven
  • 1804 – eighteen oh four

Your Turn

Write and say the answers to these questions (search the internet or ask your teacher if you don’t know):

  1. When were you born?
  2. When did the United States become an independent country?
  3. When did Princess Diana die?
  4. When was Barack Obama born?
  5. When is Thanksgiving this year?
  6. When will Americans elect the next president?
  7. When is the last day of your class?
  8. What is today’s date?
  9. What is an important date in your life (wedding, birth of a child, when you moved to the U.S., etc.)?
  10. When was the last time you took a vacation?

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