A Question About Date

I have always wondered why the Americans write the month first, then day, and finally year, when writing the date. Why put the month first? If you wanted to be different, why not put the year first, then month then day.

From what I can see, most other Countries put the day that you are in first, the month second as it stays constant for 30 odd days and the year last as that only changes annually.

I dunno, but how how does your country of interest recite the date? For example is today - sev-un-teen of juh-ly of two thoushand and twelve, or is today July sev-un-teen? Usually, when someone in the US recites a date, either that days or a soon or recent date, they prefix it with the month, even 'tho, like you said, the month changes infrequently enough that its not necessary.

Of course, people may just be reciting what they’ve been trained to write. And often enough, people will say Tuesday, the 17th, and screw you if that’s not enough context. But still, the basic premise, that because the month changes less frequently, it should get less billing, dunno if that’s an absolute.

It probably has something to do with the order in which the date would actually be said. In American English, it’s more customary to say “January 4th, 2012” than it is to say “the 4th of January, 2012”; so you abbreviate to 01/04/2012 rather than 04/01/2012. By comparison, the French style of dates would be “le 4 janvier 2012” by default, so the DD/MM/YYYY format is more “natural”.

Why the English language ended up with that particular ordering of month, day, and year in the spoken language, I don’t know; and it doesn’t explain why the UK & Australia use DD/MM/YYYY format instead. But it seems likely that the written convention grew out of the spoken grammar.

It’s been discussed a few times here, and I think the most common explanation is that in American English, when giving a date in full it sounds more natural to put the month first. That said, I’m sure I’ve often heard Americans say things like “the fourth of July”.
As for being different, apparently the month/day/year order was once commonly used in Britain too.
Year/month/day is a logical an unambiguous alternative that offends nobody, and I do actually use it myself sometimes, but I can’t see it catching on just yet.
Software that gives you no option but month/day/year is a pain in the arse (I’m looking at you, Dropbox).

Yeah, I’ve assumed that you write it that way because that’s how it’s intended to be read 10/2/2012 - October 2nd, 2012 (as that is how dates are commonly said in American English - saying the the 2nd of October, 2012 wouldn’t be weird or anything, but it’s much less common).

One word: tradition. Personally, I’d write today’s date as 120717.

Today’s date? Stardate -310457.8881109594.


very useful for sorting, though 20120717 would be even better to accommodate decades past.

i use the 6 digits, for many uses, and accommodate mentally or with some conditional sorting in computer data usage.

It’s how we did it in the military 25 years ago, and I see it is getting more common elsewhere recently.

I use year-month-date for all my computer folders. It’s also the usual way of notating a date in Hungarian.

You could always use the Julian date. Which is something like JD 2456125.916667 now. But even that’s based on mm/dd/yyyy (January 01, 4713 BC.)

I was going to point out that this is unambiguous only when day>12. But then I realized that both the US and British conventions place the year at the end; therefore, when anyone finds the year at the beginning, it alerts everyone to expect the month and then day. On the other hand, this requires one to use all four digits for the year, else it could be ambiguously the day or month.

For sorting, I add a decimal before all 20th-century dates.

centuryYear-month-day makes the most sense computer-wise, since (a) it sorts correctly with minimum effort, (b) it makes “drop leading zeros” on computers less of an issue, © abiguities are less likely.

Month-day makes sense if you say the date in English (North American style, “January 4th”)

One annoying thing is that when you tell Microsoft Windows you are in Canada, it uses dd-mm-yyyy format, but other than government forms, I don’t think very many people in Canada use that.

I can never figure out dates written just as numbers, no matter what format they’re in (because it’s not always evident which format they’re in.) When I write dates, I always write out the name of the month to avoid confusion.

(I’m in Canada by the way.)

Yes it is strange as it is always known as the 4th of July when it means a special date, but if someone asks me the date, I would always say it is the 17th of July rather than July 17th., as I would expect him to know that we are in July so the emphasis would be on the day.

As you say, it is how we were brought up.

At the bottom right of my computer it does give the year, month, day, but surely to keep this correct, the time should really come after the day, not before the year.

More significantly, it is also used in China, Japan, and Korea.

It is also the ISO standard and makes sorting by date much easier.

It isn’t. 4th of July isn’t meant to convey a special date. It’s the official name of the holiday in America, “The Fourth of July,” like Memorial Day. July 4th is a date; Fourth of July is the holiday.

E.g. Pearl Harbor Day in America would still be said to be on December 7th, not the 7th of December.

There may be other American holidays named after dates, but they escape me at the moment.

I’m sure you have, too, but that is a quite special case being the unofficial name of the holiday otherwise known as Independence Day. You’re really hearing them say “The Fourth of July.” And BTW it’s almost certainly why it hasn’t been moved to a Monday like most other holidays – can’t celebrate the Fourth of July on the 2nd.

The fourth of July is different. While officially it is “Independence Day”, most people call it “The fourth of July” or “The fourth”. It’s more a name, then a date. I’ve heard people ask “Does Country X have the fourth of July?”, and they aren’t asking if the calendar skips from the 3rd to the 5th.