4

Jack comes to work every day and sees Olivia working at the office. Jack usually asks Olivia, "What's the date today?" and "What day is it today?" because she is good at keeping track of days while Jack is quite careless in this regard.

On September 23rd, however, Olivia must have had some negative happening to her. Jack asked her those two questions, but she didn't answer them right away. A few months later Olivia went missing.

Jack is sitting at the police office now and the detective is asking Jack when the first time was when Jack had noticed something strange in Olivia's behaviour? Jack right away recalls September 23rd.

Jack answers, "It was on September 23rd. It was the first time when she wasn't able to answer my usual questions about..."

How should I continue here?

Here I have some options:

1) "... about that day's date and day";

2) "... today's date and day on that day";

3) "... the current date and the day";

4) "... the date and the day of that day";

or what?

4

Note that although unrelated to your question, it's more idiomatic to say day and date than it is to say date and day. So, I'm making making that slight change as I comment on the sentences.

1) I would rephrase it to "about a day's day and date." Although a specific day has been mentioned, it's a statement about "the first time" something happened in general.

2) This sentence doesn't work because you're not talking about today.

3) This works, although I'd make the aforementioned overall change: "about the current day and date." Here, current is relative to a particular day in the past. It's the same as being able to say now in a past tense construction like he tried again even though he was now tired.

4) This is just an inverted version of 1), so it also works with the same change: "about the day and date of a day."


In short (switching date and day to day and date aside), 2) is the only version that doesn't work at all. 3) works without any changes and both 1) and 4) work with only a slight change.

There are other constructions that could also work. But, really, it's personal preference. Of your four sentences, my own choice would be 3). The use of current is fine in this case, and it avoids the slightly awkward repetition of day in 1) and 4).

It was the first time she wasn't able to answer my usual questions about the current day and date.

  • Note that for (3), it's not uncommon to prepend with "then" to make it a bit more obvious what you mean. "about the (then) current day and date" (I'm unsure as to spelling as I've only encountered this in spoken language so far). You see similar things in sentences like "In 2011 I shook the hand of the (then) president of the United States", to point out that you mean Barack Obama and not today's president (who wasn't yet the president in 2011). – Flater Sep 20 '18 at 12:45
3

There could be many ways, but I may go for:

"It was on September 23rd. It was the first time when she wasn't able to answer my routine question of asking what day and date it was.

It shows two things you always asked her date/day, and the matter is of the past.

Let others come with their versions though.

3

In your given context I would say simply:

She couldn't tell me what day of the week it was.

or

She didn't know what day of the week it was.

I know this doesn't address your question about "date and day" but how I stated it above is the usual way it is said.

  • In British English "She couldn't tell me what day of the week it was" (or "She didn't know what day of the week it was") is an idiom meaning "she was very confused" in a general sense. The OP wants to state the literal fact that she didn't know the date. – alephzero Sep 20 '18 at 13:20
  • @alephzero: ... but because there was something amiss with her, "something strange", which might explain her momentary confusion or inability to tell him the day of the week. I don't think it's inapt given the scenario. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 20 '18 at 13:22

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