Do You Have a Date?

by Cherie Tucker

Think about your birthday.  Did you say June Fourth?  April Seventeenth?  September Third?  We talk about the days of the months in the order in which they occur: the first, second, etc.  (That’s why they’re called ordinal numbers.) Consequently, when you write a date, do not put those little th, rd, st indicators if the name of the month is stated first.  For example, it’s June 4, not June 4th.  People will automatically say June Fourth.  There is no need for that little embellishment.  Use it when the number stands alone:  He was born on the 4th of June.

Another thing.   The date that follows the month and day must be set off by two commas:  June 4, 2008, was a hot day.  You have interrupted the sentence to tell which June 4 you are talking about (there has been one every year), so you have to signal the end of the interruption.  Some were told to leave that second comma out, but you must overcome that instruction for the sake of clarity.  Consider this one:  On June 4, 2008 finally warmed up.  Now you see why.

Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.  She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well. 

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