Proper Grammar for Writing Dates

Proper Grammar for Writing Dates

Seem to be confused about writing dates correctly? Take a look at this simple guide that tells you how the proper grammar for writing dates works.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2018
Writing dates appropriately on any kind of document or invitation is a tricky affair, solely because a lot of us are confused about where the commas should go and whether the month or the date comes first. So, how are such dates written? What kind of grammar and punctuation goes into writing these dates appropriately? Let's find out here.
Correct Grammar for Writing Dates
Now you may be wondering why grammar has to apply to something as simple as a date. However, there are certain rules of English grammar that include dates, that have been set down right from the start. As such, we are now expected to understand and follow these rules.
For instance, if you are sending out an important business letter and you write the date incorrectly, what kind of impression is it going to leave? Or, if you are sending out your wedding invite, don't you want it to be perfect? In that case, you ought to start learning about proper grammar for writing dates, so that everything is absolutely 'perfect'.
All About Numbers
When writing dates, two types of numbers are considered appropriate, i.e., ordinal numbers and cardinal numbers. These are written as:
  • Ordinal Number: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
  • Cardinal Number: 1, 2, 3
In American English, the month is always placed before the date, which is followed by the year. Therefore, the appropriate way to write this, say in a legal document is:
  •  November 1, 2018
However, when you are using the date in a sentence, you may use ordinal numbers first and write:
  • The exhibition will be held on the third of November 2018.
An incorrect way of writing the date would be:
  • The exhibition will be held on November third, 2018.
Do not use ordinal numbers instead of cardinal numbers when writing just the date on a document. For instance:
  • November 1st, 2018 (is incorrect)
  • 1st of November, 2018 (is acceptable)
Use of Punctuation in Dates

The placement of the comma in a date is what confuses most people. In the example, the comma is written after the month and date, and is then followed by the year. However, when writing a statement you will write it as follows:

Please join us for the exhibition on November 1, 2018 (,) followed by cocktails and dinner.
You may or may not add a comma after the year. Both ways are appropriate. If you must mention the day along with the date, you may write it as follows:

Please join us for the exhibition on Wednesday, November 1, 2018 followed by cocktails and dinner.
Use of Apostrophes in Dates

We often tend to abbreviate years in the process of writing by using an apostrophe, another point of confusion for many. Where exactly does this apostrophe go? How do you pluralize a year? Take the following example:

I was particularly impressed by the fashion of the '60s.
Here you can see that the apostrophe comes before the year that has been shortened. The '60s refers to the decade, and not the year 1960 in particular. For an abbreviated version, you may use this format. On the other hand, you may also write:

I was particularly impressed by the fashion of the 1960s.
This method is also correct. However, do keep in mind that using 1960's or '60's is incorrect. There is no need to use an apostrophe before the 's'. Finally, you may also write the dates in words, in the sense:

I was particularly impressed by the fashion of the sixties.
Some More Rules about Dates

There are two more areas that need to be covered. These have been enlisted here

If you must write all the dates in words, you will write: First of November, Two Thousand (and) Eighteen. Adding 'and' is the British way of writing dates.
Sentences are usually not begun with the mention of a year. You will not write: 2018 was the year I started learning how to dance. You will instead write I started learning the dance in the year 2018. Do this as long as it does not change the meaning of your statement.
Minor details such as writing a date correctly, often make a difference to the overall impression you leave with the reader. Pay attention to them if perfection is what you are looking for.