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Ordinal Numbers for Dates

Ordinal numbers are used to show the order of sequence. One of the most common usages of ordinal numbers in both written and spoken English is for dates.

Grammar Corner Ordinal Numbers for Dates


For dates in spoken English, we always use ordinal numbers, i.e. Fourth of July, not Four of July. Normally a -TH appears at the end of the number. e.g. seven … seventh.

However, in written English you may write a normal (cardinal) number without the -TH or -ST etc. after it. Even if it is not written, the ordinal number is still said in spoken English. In the United States it is NOT common to put the -th after the number in written English.

Order of Days and Months when saying the date

There are two ways of giving the date in English:

Month + Day: December 25 – used in the United States.

The exception is with the name of the US celebration the Fourth of July.


Day + Month: 25th December – used in the rest of the world.

How to say the YEARS in English

Years are normally divided into two parts; the first two digits and the last two digits.

2017 is divided into 20 and 17 so you would say twenty seventeen.

  • 1982 = nineteen eighty-two
  • 1999 = nineteen ninety-nine
  • 2017 = twenty seventeen
  • 2021 = twenty twenty-one

Writing the date in English

Be careful when writing the dates using only numbers.

For example, Christmas day is written:

  • 12 / 25 / 17   in the United States (the month is first) and
  • 25 / 12 / 17   in the rest of the world (the day is first).

So what day is this?  3/4/17

It depends on the country. It can be:

March fourth, twenty seventeen (in the United States)


The third of April, twenty seventeen (in the rest of the world)

To avoid confusion, when writing an email or any other written form of English, it is best to write the month as its name (January, February, etc.) or its abbreviation (Jan. Feb. etc.) and NOT as its number.

And remember, the months are always written in Capital letters.

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