View Full Version : A.D. 2000 or 2000 A.D. ?
05-24-2000, 06:00 AM
I have been arguing with my associates over which is the correct usage of the abbreviation A.D. We all agree that it would be correct to write years before Christ as, for example, 1000 B.C., because logically this should translate to '2000 Before Christ'. But in the case of A.D. we have a bit of a conflict.
The question is this: Should A.D. be placed before or after the year it is being attached to?
A.D. is an abbreviation for Anno Domini which I was lead to believe is a direct translation for 'In the year of our Lord'. So wouldn't it make more sense to put the A.D. before the year so that, for example, A.D. 2000 translates to 'In the year of our Lord, 2000'. As opposed to 2000 A.D., '2000 in the year of our Lord' which does not make grammatical sense?
Someone please solve this for us or I will be forever waking up in the middle of the night screaming for an answer!
05-24-2000, 07:02 AM
We've been over this quite recently, in a thread I started in order to annoy people (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=23796) (it's so easy, and so fun). The accepted practice is to say AD 2000. But in my book, the only thing that makes logical sense is "AD 2000th" (or somewhat less traditionally, "2000th AD"). In Latin, the year is almost invariably given as an ordinal number, not cardinal, which in English would be "In the year of the Lord the two thousandth."
05-24-2000, 07:58 AM
OTOH, since most people are unaware of the ordinal Latin usage (and darn few people remember what ordinals are, most thinking only that cardinals are birds), the more common usage is 2000 AD, regardles of the etymology.
Just to be ornery my ownself, unless I am writing about a specifically Christian event in a very Christian context, I resort the the historian's method of BCE and CE (Before Current Era and Current Era). This puts the abbreviation behind the date in all occasions, avoids mixing Latin and English abbreviations, makes the refence point consistent, removes the cultural bias from the language, and really irritates a few Euro-Christian-centered cultural bigots.
05-24-2000, 08:29 AM
Just to correct my earlier post, when I said:
"1000 B.C., because logically this should translate to '2000 Before Christ'."
I did, ofcourse, mean:
"1000 B.C., because logically this should translate to '1000 Before Christ'."
Thanks to my cynical 'friends' for pointing that out. ;)
Cheers for your reply too, bibliophage. Your earlier posting was on the Latin use of A.D. which is perhaps a different matter altogether. I was asking the correct English use of the Latin abbreviation.
If someone could just provide some real English evidence so I can clear this up (preferably with a cited reference) that the correct English form for using the abbreviation 'A.D.' is to place the A.D. before the year. (e.g. A.D. 1486)
05-24-2000, 08:46 AM
As I pointed out above and in the previous thread, the accepted practice in English is for the A.D. to precede the year. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers says[/quote]A.D. and B.C. with specific yearsA.D. 977 [A.D. precedes the year]
12 B.C. [B.C. follows the year][/quote]
By the way, A.D. and B.C. should really be in small capitals according to other references I have seen.
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