The date: writing it and say it

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When reading a date, keep in mind that it is spoken differently from how it is written. The difference is small but knowing this strange little rule will have you announcing the date like a natural born citizen of any English speaking country.

There are two kinds of numbers we use to specify the day, cardinal and ordinal. A cardinal number states quantity (one, two, three, etc.) whereas an ordinal number defines the position of something in a series (first, second, third, etc.).

Let’s use the American style to write a date, for example, like January 1, 2012. We write it using the cardinal number, 1. However, when speaking we use the ordinal number, first.

Written: January 1, 2012
Spoken: January first, two thousand twelve
Written: July 4, 1776
Spoken: July fourth, seventeen seventy-six

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