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Grammar Tips & Tidbits


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Date Advice

I may not be able to give advice on getting dates, but I can provide you with some tips for writing dates―as in today's date―March 21, 2007.

Here are a few rules for writing dates that may come in handy sometime:

Rule #1:
When the month, day, and year are expressed within a sentence, commas should be used before and after the year.¹

Example: On May 14, 2001, Shana graduated from college and set out to conquer the world.

Rule #2: When only the month and year are included, commas are not necessary unless the structure of the sentence requires them.¹

Example: I'm sure Christopher will be interested in seeing the cover photo for the August 2006 issue of People magazine.

Rule #3: Use an ordinal figure (1st, 5th, etc.) or an ordinal word (first, fifth, etc.) if the day precedes the month or if the day stands alone in a sentence.¹

Example: My sister is coming to visit on the 5th (or fifth) of June, and she'll be staying until the 15th (or fifteenth).

Rule #4: Use a cardinal figure (1, 2, 3, etc.) if the day follows the month.¹

Example: Samantha said she would complete the project by May 28.
(Note: Do not write May 28th even though it's typically spoken that way.)

Rule #5: Spell out the day and year in formal invitations and other similar documents.¹

Example: Sarah Elizabeth Jones and Michael Curtis Brown will be joined in holy matrimony on Saturday, the twenty-seventh of October, two thousand seven.

So, were any of these rules new to you? For many, it will be tough to kick the habit of writing May 28th with the th on the end. Don't worry about memorizing all the rules though! I'm sure you'll think of this newsletter next time you're writing a date.  Just be sure to add the Grammar Tips & Tidbits Archive to your bookmarks or favorites folder so you can find this information again when you need it!

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1. Sabin, William A. The Gregg Reference Manual. Tenth Edition.
         New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005, pp. 124-126.