How to Say Months and Dates in English

by Andrea Byaruhanga
March 30, 2020

1-12-2021 . . . that’s 1st December, isn’t it? Or is it January 12thDepending on where you’re from, either answer could be correct! If English months and dates have you confused, keep reading. In this post, we look at how to pronounce them, in which order to say them, and what the differences are between the UK and the US.

How to say the months in English

The majority of countries around the world use the Gregorian calendar. That’s the one that begins in January and ends in December. The months are numbered from 1 to 12. 

Easy, right?

Okay, so maybe you already know the months of the year . . .

But how are your skills when it comes to saying them?

Have a look at the list below—it shows UK and US pronunciation of the 12 months. While their spellings are the same, their sounds can be quite different. 

  Month UK US
1. January /ˈdʒæn.ju.ə.ri/ /ˈdʒæn.ju.er.i/
2.  February /ˈfeb.ru.ər.i/ /ˈfeb.ruː.er.i/
3.  March /mɑːtʃ/  /mɑːrtʃ/
4.  April /ˈeɪ.prəl/ /ˈeɪ.prəl/
5.  May /meɪ/  /meɪ/ 
6.  June /dʒuːn/ /dʒuːn/
7.  July /dʒuˈlaɪ/  /dʒʊˈlaɪ/
8.  August /ɔːˈɡʌst/  /ɑːˈɡʌst/
9.  September /sepˈtem.bər /sepˈtem.bɚ/
10. October /ɒkˈtəʊ.bər /ɑːkˈtoʊ.bɚ/
11. November /nəʊˈvem.bər/  /nəˈvem.bər /noʊˈvem.bɚ/
12. December /dɪˈsem.bər/ /dɪˈsem.bɚ/

There are several subtle pronunciation differences that we could discuss all day, but for now, let’s look at a few of the most obvious ones.

r sound 

The words that differ the most on this list are generally those that have an r. Just like other American English words, the US months are pronounced with a harder, more noticeable r sound compared to the UK pronunciation. The only exception here is “April.”

u sound

Another difference worth noting is the sound of the letter u in “July.” UK pronunciation uses a long u sound (like in “June”). The US pronunciation has the same sound you’d hear in “book” or “put.”

au sound

This difference can be heard in the month “August.” In UK pronunciation, the beginning au takes a rounded vowel sound—produced by making a circular shape with your mouth. The US pronunciation is unrounded, meaning the mouth is open wider and doesn’t make a circle. The rounded vowel sound that’s heard in UK pronunciation is actually quite uncommon in American English.

How to say dates in English

When you say a date, you should use ordinal numbers (numbers you use to show an order). 

1 → first 11 → eleventh 21 → twenty-first
2 → second 12 → twelfth 22 → twenty-second
3 → third 13 → thirteenth 23 → twenty-third
4 → fourth 14 → fourteenth 24 → twenty-fourth
5 → fifth 15 → fifteenth 25 → twenty-fifth
6 → sixth 16 → sixteenth 26 → twenty-sixth
7 → seventh 17 → seventeenth 27 → twenty-seventh
8 → eighth 18 → eighteenth 28 → twenty-eighth
9 → ninth 19 → nineteenth 29 → twenty-ninth
10 → tenth 20 → twentieth 30 → thirtieth
    31 → thirty-first

Order

How you say a date depends on where you are in the world. While we’re not going to talk about the variations between every country, let’s discuss the differences between the date formats in the UK and the US.

UK date order

In the UK, the date order is day-month-year. 

Written: My final exam is on 9 December. 

Spoken: My final exam is on the ninth of December.

Written: I’m leaving on 5th January. 

Spoken: I’m leaving on the fifth of January.

Written: I was born on 2-11-1995.

Spoken: I was born on the second of November, nineteen-ninety-five.

US date order

In the US, it’s a bit different. The order is month-day-year.

Written: I’m moving to a new apartment on June 24. 

Spoken: I’m moving to a new apartment on June twenty-fourth.

Written: Her appointment is on August 12th

Spoken: Her appointment is on August twelfth.

Written: He signed the papers on 10-18-2019.

Spoken: He signed the papers on October eighteenth, twenty-nineteen.

How to use prepositions with months and dates

When you’re talking about a month, the preposition you should use is in

My best friend got married in July.

→ School starts in September.

When you’re talking about a specific date, use on

→ My best friend got married on 24 July.

→ School starts on September 8.

If you’d like to practice your English skills with a native speaking English teacher, visit the Lingoda website and sign up for your free 7-day trial today. 

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