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A quote from an English mini-lesson at a Russian social network:

In 2011 the April 12 was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight in dedication of the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961.

Is the use of the definite article grammatical here, or should it be:

In 2011 April 12 was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight in dedication of the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961.

In my guessing, the use of the numeral 12 might make it ungrammatical. But I'm unsure.

I also forgot whether we're supposed to pronounce 'April the 12th' despite writing it without 'THE' .. or 'April 12th' is OK.

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I would certainly drop the article all together, but I would write and say: April 12th. Alternatively, you could say the 12th of April. –  oerkelens Apr 14 at 8:09
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2 Answers 2

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I will limit my answer to dates writting in this format: April 12. As was mentioned in a comment, when the date is written in another format (e.g., "the 12th of April"), the rules concerning articles change.


No article should be used in your sentence, although I would recommend the use of an article when the date is being used as a modifier before a noun.

In 2011, April 12 was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight in dedication of the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961.

In 2011, April 12 was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight to commemorate the April 12, 1961 manned space flight sending the first human being out of the atmosphere.

In the second sentence, the second April 12 date modifies "space flight", so we put an article before it. In the first sentence, the date functions as a noun, and therefore should not have an article.

So:

Easter Sunday is on April 20 this year.
This service celebrates the April 20 arrival of Easter Sunday.

April 4 marks the tragic day when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
We will have a moment of silence as we remember the tragic April 4 shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 1 is commonly known as April Fool's Day.
Yes, I'm pulling your leg – because the April 1 tradition encourages such jokes today.

Notice how, when I use an article before the date, I could remove the date, and the sentence will still make grammatical sense:

This service celebrates the arrival of Easter Sunday.

We will have a moment of silence as we remember the tragic shooting of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes, I'm pulling your leg – because the tradition encourages such jokes today.

Now observe what happens when we try that with your sentence:

In 2011 the was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight in dedication of the first manned space flight made on April 12, 1961.

Houston, we have a problem.

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There are various ways to write a date. Also, it differs from dialect to dialect. Also, in my opinion the article does makes sense. It was the Twelfth of April when it was declared as the International Day of Human Space Flight. We are emphasizing the special day and thus, my vote is to include the definite article.

To support the use of articles in writing dates, I found some references. There are many ways to write dates. In BrE the Fourteenth of March, 2011 is written, in AmE, March the Fourteenth, 2011 is more common.

In your case, I would prefer separating the year from the date as it was the year 2011 something happened on April 12.

It was in the year of 2011, the Twelfth of April (or April the Twelfth) was declared as...

Various styles of writing the dates in BrE and AmE here and here (GrammarBook). However, that's different as here, you are emphasizing on the year of 2011 as before that year, April 12 wasn't anything.

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