Date Format — How to Write Dates Correctly in English

You might want to ask this? What is the correct date format in English?

Here’s the rub, how you do this depends solely on whether you are writing a formal or an informal letter or whether you’re applying the American date format or British date format. I’ll give you some examples below shortly, in which it would pinpoint the several ways you can write the same date.

One thumb rule is that the more complex the style of the date, the more formal it is.

Use of Cardinal and Ordinal Numbers:

We tend to apply for ordinal numbers when we write in format— 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., and cardinal numbers when we correspond in format 1,2,3, etc.

For instance;

October 1 or

The 1st of October

    Date Formats

There’re two date formats when it comes to English. We have the British date format (which I’ll be calling Brit English in some parts of this post) and the American date format.

The British date format is followed by the British people, or the British speaking individuals, like those in England, New Zealand, Australia, and the likes. Whereas the American date format is solely used by people in the U.S. Now, let’s discuss this format in detail;

Read also, How to Write an Appendix in a Book (Format & Tips to Follow)

Here’s a date Format in British English;

When it comes to British English, which is the foundation of all contemporary English, the day is followed by the month, followed by the year.

Here’s what I’m trying to pass across, the 1st day of the month of October, in the year 2021, might be written in order of complexity or in full.

  1. 1 Octo
  2. 1 October
  3. 1 October 2021
  4. 1st October 2021
  5. The 1st of October 2021
  6. The 1st of October, 2021

As you can see, the last two date formats are pretty formal. The ‘the‘ and ‘of’ are optional on this basis, but if you do apply them, you must add both ‘the‘ and ‘of.

It’s wrong to say the 1st of October or the 1st October.

As for the given year, commas aren’t necessary when you write the date in Brit English, but if you want to, then you’re free to do so.

Peradventure, you wish to add the name of the day; it should come before the date and should either be sorted by a comma or joined by ‘of’ or ‘the.’

  1. Friday, 1st October, 2021
  2. Friday the 1st of October, 2021

Let’s dive in a little and learn other formats

How to Write the date, American Format?

Most American writers (let’s talk about us now) tend not to use and after thousand, especially when expressing a year after 2000 in words, but it is common in Brit English—both are wholly correct.

For instance;

The 1920s ushered in the Great Depression, the Spanish-Flu, and the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Nineteen-twenties ushered in the Great Depression, the Spanish-Flu, or the Saint Valentine’s day massacre.

A whole lot of stuff happened in the political arena in 2002.

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Two thousand and two was a tumultuous year in international politics.

Two thousand two was a tumultuous year in international politics.

The European Format

When it comes to these Europeans, they’re little-endian.

In most European countries and other places in the world, the day comes first, then the month, and the year—somewhat consonant to the Brit Date format, but not all rounded.

For example, the first day in October would be written like;

  1. 1 October 2021
  2. 1/10/2021
  3. 01/10/2021

The date is normally written similarly to the American version (do take note). So, October 1, 2021 would have the month and day switched around, making it 1 October 2021.

Do observe in the standard European version of the date that there’s no attribution for a comma, or there’s no comma in simple terms. The comma which separates the date from the year is an American style that most Europeans do not find well to follow.

Here are some regions that do format their date in Day/Month/ Year format:

  1. Asia
  2. Africa
  3. Oceania
  4. Europe
  5. South America
  6. Central America
  7. Mexico

Date Format in other Regions

All other places in the world tend to use the BIG ENDIAN form; this seeks to limit the confusion by placing the year first. Much of Asia applies this form when they do write the date.

Read also, What is Denotation? Definition & 30 Examples of Denotation

Here’s one example;

  1. October 1, 2021 would be written as 2021
  2. October 1. Do you notice there’s no comma given?

And that’s not all to it; in the country of Hungary, a comma isn’t applied when writing a date either. Instead, they do involve a dot after the year. Not to forget, the first letter of the month isn’t capitalized in any way.

Here’s what I’m trying to pinpoint;

  1. Januar 1

International Standard

In such efforts to avoid miscommunication between people applying the British date format, and those involving the American date format, an international standard was made. For instance, if an Australian writes October 1, 2021 as 1/10/2021, but an American writes the same date as 10/01/2021, then ask yourself, who’s right in this case?

Well, no need to worry anymore, for the international standard advises writing the fate as year, then a month, then the day: YYYY-MM-DD. So, if both the Australian and American apply this, they would write the date as 2021-10-01.

When it comes to writing the date this way, it tends to avoid confusion by placing the year first—to get the full grasp of the date format. As I said previously, much of Asia is known to use this type of date format.


  1. October 1, 2021 would be written as 2021
  2. October 1

How do we make our Exactitude?

When it comes to numeral-only formats, they aren’t ideal for formal writing, but in more casual situations, such as used in correspondence between two relations or friends; in such cases, the numerical format might be pretty more convenient.

Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind the cultural difference that we noted in the preceding. If you often write with people outside your region, then you may wish to be pretty more clear by spelling the month out.

For instance, as an American looking forward to inviting my friend from England for an event I’ll be hosting on 10/1/2021. It might be best for me to write ‘October 1, 2021’ or ‘1 October 2021,’ or I want to make her show up on January 5.

And as someone who’s learned lifestyles and cultures the hard while living abroad, I can duly tell you that this is extra clarity does save the day.

Proper dates formats

When it comes to dates, they’re particularly important specs of information, especially when you’re in the act of signing documents or sending invitations that are worthy of being answered.

Read also, How to Use Inverted Commas, Brackets, and Capital Letters

Yes, by knowing how to write dates properly in both sentence structure and numerals, you can verily communicate much more effectively and avoid all the hobbles or potential mental confusion that may arise when it concerns your recipient.

Date formats in informal writing;

And if your task needs a less formal response, for instance, a letter to a friend overseas, then a shorter date format can be applied for that. This typically applies only numbers separated by full stops or slashes of some kind rather than writing out the month. Shortening the year is also pretty acceptable, such as in the following;

  1. 10.2021
  2. 01/10/2021

You can also write out the date but shorten the given month to save space;

  1. 1 October 2021—1 Oct 2021
  2. 1 October—1 Oct

What is the best date format?

YYYY-MM-DD— the international standard.

This is the best practice for any given date format. Make sure you always remember to include the four-digit year and use numbers for months.

Let’s talk a little about the grammatically correct ways to write your date format. This would help somehow, and it’s more like a strong summary of what I’ve been talking about from the start.

Grammatically correct ways to write a date format

Correct Grammar is necessary:

When it comes to English grammar, there are specific rules which state how to write a date. Nonetheless, you may be pretty amused to know that grammar rules apply to something as simple as writing a date, right? But you need not ignore the proper use when it asks for it.

Most times, we all put ourselves in a quagmire when we tend to write a date incorrectly, for example, for an important meeting or worse, a wedding invitation! Therefore, it’s peculiarly necessary to be perfect when it comes to writing a date.

The simple guidelines in writing a date are pretty simple and were said from the very start of this post; we use the cardinal and ordinal numbers when we write our dates—remember this.

Punctuation rules:

Apostrophe; when we shorten or abbreviate years, instead of writing it in this scope, 1920, you can write ‘1900s. And most of us tend to use an apostrophe when we are writing in full form— 1920’s. Nonetheless, this is an incorrect way to register or write, and the correct is 1920s.

Comma; most of us are confused with the usage of punctuations in dates. For instance, a comma is applied before the year. Nonetheless, in a statement, it can be written as follows,

Read also, How to Use a Semicolon: An Understanding of How It Works?

We invite you to join this event on October 1, 2021 (,) for my Maria and Tony’s wedding.

Always remember it’s acceptable to add a comma after the year. However, even if you don’t add it, it’s still grammatically correct.


Well, I hope this helped, and if it did, why not drop a comment and tell me how! And even though we are in the era of calendar apps, which saves us the stress of writing down dates. We still need to be cautious and learn not to forget the rules for writing dates in different places.


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