How to say the months and dates in German

How to say the months and dates in German

by Erin McGann

Updated July 5, 2022

Surely you just, well, say the months or dates in German? Ah! Think for a moment how you say the date where you’re from. Even in English, in the US people say the date in one way and in the UK they order it differently. So let’s have a look at how to say and write the date in German.

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How to say the days of the week in German

Firstly, there are the days of the week in German, which look quite similar to the English ones:

Monday – Montag

Tuesday – Dienstag

Wednesday – Mittwoch

Thursday – Donnerstag

Freitag – Friday

Saturday – Samstag

Sunday – Sonntag

It’s worth noting that in some parts in the eastern and northern regions of Germany, Samstag is Sonnabend, literally the eve of Sunday. If you’re like me and get Dienstag and Donnerstag mixed up (ask me about the time I showed up to the doctor on a Tuesday instead of a Thursday), a friend told me this neat trick – Dienstag is shorter, so it comes earlier in the week. 

The months of the year in German

Again, quite similar to the English month names are the months in German:

January – Januar

February – Februar

March – März

April – April

May – Mai

June – Juni

July – Juli

August – August

September – September

October – Oktober

November – November

December – Dezember

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How to say the date in German

German speakers use the day-month-year ordering of dates, whether they are writing them out or using only numerals. When you write out the full month name, you put a full stop after the number of the day to denote that it’s an ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd) – for example, 22nd July would be 22. July. When you say that out loud, it would be zweiundzwanzigste Juli. Much like English, the first few ordinals are irregular:

First – erste

Second – zweite

Third – dritte

Fourth – vierte

Fifth – fünfte

Sixth – sechste

Seventh – siebte

Eighth – achte

Ninth – neunte

Tenth – zehnte

And so on, adding a ‘–te’ to the end of the number. After 20, zwanzig, the ending becomes ‘-ste’, like the above example of ‘zweiundzwanigste’. I pretty much avoid having to talk about anything that has an ordinal in the thirties, because ‘dreißigste’ is a tongue twister for me. 

However, this changes depending on the preposition. If you were to say, ‘He came on the first of May’, that would be ‘Er kam am ersten Mai‘, notice the ‘en’. This ending change follows for all the ordinals. If we started a sentence and used the definite article, for example: ‘The first of May is usually warm’, it would be ‘Der erste Mai ist normalerweise warm‘.

Saying the year in German

The year is broken into two parts in German for dates before the year 2000. For 1735, you would say 17 35, ‘siebzehn fünfunddreißig’. Notice there is no ‘und’ between the two sets of numbers, and this is the same way we manage these dates in English as well. Once you’re after 2000, it changes. The year 2020 is not how we would say it in English, twenty twenty, but two-thousand twenty, zweitausendzwanzig. It’s worth noting here that if you write out the year in words, it is not capitalised. 

Important things to remember with German dates

If you’re writing out the date, German speakers use full stops between the days, months, and year, when you’re writing it out in numerals: 22.07.1977. No dashes, slashes or anything else. When you use the month written out, there is no comma after the month and before the year: 22. Juli 2020. 

Now you just have to practise saying your birthday over and over again, and you’ll have it ready to go next time you’re at the doctor’s office!

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Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favourite activity, along with sewing, archery, and historical reenactment. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.

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