1-12-2021 . . . that’s 1st December, isn’t it? Or is it January 12th? Depending 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 dates in English, in which order to say them, and what the differences are between the UK and the US.
- How to say the months in English
- How to say dates in English
- How to use prepositions with months and dates
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Another difference worth noting when pronouncing dates in English 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.”
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|
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.
Andrea is a Canadian freelance writer and editor specializing in English, e-learning, EdTech, and SaaS. She has a background as an ESL teacher in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. In her free time, Andrea loves hanging out with her husband and children, creating recipes in the kitchen, and reading fiction. She also loves camping and jumping into lakes whenever possible. Learn more about Andrea on LinkedIn or check out her website.