Do You Have a Date?
by Cherie Tucker
Think about your birthday. Did you say June Fourth?
April Seventeenth? September Third? We talk about the days of the
months in the order in which they occur: the first, second, etc.
(That’s why they’re called ordinal numbers.) Consequently, when you
write a date, do not put those little th, rd, st indicators
if the name of the month is stated first. For example, it’s June 4,
not June 4th. People will automatically say June Fourth. There is
no need for that little embellishment. Use it when the number
stands alone: He was born on the 4th of June.
Another thing. The date that follows the month and
day must be set off by two commas: June 4, 2008, was a hot day.
You have interrupted the sentence to tell which June 4 you
are talking about (there has been one every year), so you have to
signal the end of the interruption. Some were told to leave that
second comma out, but you must overcome that instruction for the
sake of clarity. Consider this one: On June 4, 2008 finally warmed
up. Now you see why.
Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to
professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference.
She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the
University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits