Writing the date

Why do American’s write the date differently from the British? For example I would write todays date as 25/1/04. But I know Americans would write it as 1/25/04. Why is that?

The American way seems logical to me – it’s just the written version of what I would say if asked the date: January 25, 2004 = 1/25/04.

So to me the question is, why do the British do it the other way? If I asked you the date, would you say 'January 25th" or do you actually say “the 25th of January”?

Americans don’t always write it month-day-year. In the military, the preferred format is DD Month YYYY. But it can vary a little depending on the context. And if it’s expressed in numbers, as it is commonly on forms, it’s either MM/DD/YY or YYYYMMDD

You might see today’s date written one of a few ways.

25 January 2004
25 Jan 04

But it is never wreitten as 25/1/04. That’s just far too confusing.

Most Brits (as well as most Europeans) would both write and say “25th January.”

And, in repsone to the second poster…

When we speak it, we sometimes say often say “January twenty-fifth.” But “twenty-five January” probably more common. Typical government efficiency for you.

What date is Independence Day again? :wink:

The canadian method is dd/mm/yy as well, It makes more sense to me. You start off with the smallest unit of time–a day.

The most common form would be “January the 25th”, I’d say, with “the 25th of January” coming a close second. I’ve never heard anyone say “25th January”; “January 25th” you do hear, but it sounds a bit formal.

I do all the time…as a result of regional accents. I guess you’d write it something like “u’Twennyfiff u’Januree”. Gawd bless Suffolk.


I’m assuming you’re American, as am I. As someone else already pointed out above, in the US military dates are almost always written like “25 Jan 04”. The only common exception is that computer input is often in 2005/01/25 format.

But the previous poster didn’t explain military pronunciation. The correct style is said as “twenty-five January.” The upcoming Superbowl will be held on “one February oh-four”. Independence Day is celebrated on “four July” every year. In the military, dates don’t have st’s, nd’s, rd’s or th’s.

Then again, two hours after noon is pronounced “fourteen hundred”, not “two pee em,” so it’s not surprising that military folks say the dates differently than the public at large also.

I’ve been out of the service for almost 16 years and I still catch myself using military date formats and pronuciation from time to time, usually baffling my non-veteran co-workers.

If anyone wants a crash course in the differences in international styles for dates, times, etc., open the Windows control panel & select “regional options.”

My Win 2000 installation has about 75 choices to pick from. Each contains specific rules for punctuating numbers, currency, dates and times. You’d be amazed how many different formats are out there.

Many of those 75 choices differ only in the symbol used for the local currency, but there are still at least a half dozen distinct ways to write the date.

Sure I did.

No, Usram’s British (as am I). Although many variations on the written and spoken form are common, today is the twenty-fifth day of January, so that would be the most logical way of saying it.

The only sure-fire way to write a date is “25 January” or “January 25.” If space for writing counts then DD/MM/YY is the one only of such methods that makes sense.

But I don’t want to be dogmatic about it.

I remember hearing that the style of MM/DD/YY came about with the Industrial Revolution, where monthly tallies and records became ingrained in the culture. At this point I think it comes down to tradition.

I’d say the 25th of January.

That could be right, but I seem to recall something about the IR happening here (in the UK) too.

As a United Statesian, I do prefer the 25-Jan-2004 format myself. I detest the 01/25/04 and the 25/01/04 formats both, because they’re indistinct, and Windows has a hard time figuring out that if I’m using Excel I want the mm/dd/yy format so I don’t confuse other people with dd/mm/yy.

In any case, what I really prefer and use for organizing all of my own stuff is the yyyy-mm-dd format. Makes sorting in any type of program super, super easy.

Whoops. Sorry.

That depends on how you define “smallest.” To me the month is the smallest, since it can only go to 12- we consider it ordered from smallest (1-12) to biggest (0 to infinite), which seems very orderly :slight_smile: It’s smallest number vs smallest increment of time.