My birthday party is on the third of December.

My birthday party is on _____ _____ _____.

I encountered this question in a quiz. It requires me to rephrase the first sentence without changing its meaning. The answer key is "December the third". But I feel it's wrong, there shouldn't be the definite article 'the' according to my knowledge. I think it should be "My birthday party is on December third, or December 3(rd)".

And also, someone says "you never write the definite article before the date, but you pronounce it."

So, I'm confused now. Can someone help me out of this?


1 Answer 1


"you never write the definite article before the date, but you pronounce it."

There a few factors that come into play with use of "the" in the date.

Firstly; it is more common for American people to miss out "the" than British people (older generation at least).

Secondly; American people often use the form December the third (December 3rd), whilst UK English tends to use the form the third of December (the 3rd of December).

Thirdly; the context for example if the date is specific rather than general. The Fourth of July. The twenty fifth of December. Where the date has a special meaning.

As to the Statement you never write the definite article this is not exactly correct.

In UK English Cambridge English Dictionary fifth; ordinal number; 5th written as a word:

Tomorrow is the fifth (of September).

In US English fifth; adjective, adverb, noun; (a person or thing) coming immediately after the fourth and before all others:

Tomorrow is the fifth of September.

So even in US English the use of the written form of the date makes it a specific event and "the" should be used. Whilst I suggest in the numerical form it can be omitted.

Tomorrow is, 5th of September - Tomorrow is September 5th.

  • Do you suggest that "December third" is not correct?
    – dan
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:47
  • @dan; I am English so I prefer not to comment on this use. I suspect it is grammatically incorrect but frequently used in American spoken English. Whether this frequent use has now made the grammar correct (as languages evolve), I do not know.
    – Brad
    Aug 13, 2019 at 2:59

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