GrammarPhile Blog


Posted by Phil Jamieson   Dec 6, 2012 12:30:00 PM

calendarWe don't mean the edible dates, and we don't mean jaunts to the movies with your cutie. We are writing this week on the proper expression of dates in time.

Centuries. Do not capitalize particular centuries. Spell them out.

  • He looks like something out of the seventeen hundreds.
  • He's strictly twentieth century.
  • I studied the fifth and sixth centuries.

Decades. The most common mistake seen in print with regard to decades is the inclusion of an apostrophe, as in the 1950's. This is wrong. Do not include an apostrophe. You can also spell out a reference to a particular decade.

  • It's a TV show about the 1960s.
  • It was his favorite big band from the forties.

Month and year. When specifying a month and a year, do not follow the month with a comma.

  • We last saw you in June 2008.
  • We hope you'll return for our retreat in March 2010.

Month, day, and year. In written form, do not use ordinals (e.g., 26th, 2nd) for dates. Use cardinal numbers instead (though when reading, these numbers are often pronounced as ordinals). Place commas after the day and the year in running text (unless, of course, the year ends the sentence).

  • Incorrect: His birthday is July 5th, 1943. [Use just "5" and not "5th."]
  • Incorrect: I will see you November 17, 2009 for dinner. [Needs a comma after 2009.]
  • Correct: September 11, 2001, is another date that shall live in infamy.
  • Correct: He was born on January 19, 1807, in Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia.

Topics: dates, writing dates

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