In an out of office email message I am trying to express that I will be on vacation from 03 January 2021 through 28 January 2022 and, given that the last day is a Friday, I also want to add a return date (the following Monday). I came up with this:

I will be on vacation from 03.01.2022 through 28.01.2022, returning on 31.01.2022.

With two things I am not sure if they are correct:

  1. Should a numerical date be prefixed with "the", e.g. "from the 03.01.2022"?
  2. Is it okay to write "returning on"? Is there a better/more natural sounding way?
  • 2
    It presumably doesn't matter to your business contacts when you actually return home; just give the date you will be back at your desk - and, no, you don't need to write the when giving dates in that format. Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:50
  • Concur with Kate. As a contact, I don't care where you are going and when you are coming back and what your status is with your employer (at work, on paid vacation time, on sick time, weekend, whatever). I care about when you are likely to be seeing and responding to my email. So: say you are out of the office until Monday the 1st.
    – randomhead
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 16:51
  • Slash (/) as a date separator (e.g. 3/1/2021) is much more common than dot (.) in the UK and I believe in the US too. In this context it would also be more common to omit the leading zeros.
    – rjpond
    Commented Oct 9, 2021 at 9:24

3 Answers 3


Let me just mention a few details that haven't been yet:

  1. Using "through" implies that the dates mentioned are included in the range. "I will be out through Friday" means you are still gone on Friday. "I will be out until Friday" means that you are back on Friday. (There is still opportunity for your hearers to overlook or confuse the distinction, though, which is why extra clarifying phrases like "I will be back in the office on ___" are a good idea.)
  2. There are international differences in how numeric dates are ordered. If there's any chance that anyone in another country will receive this message, or even to avoid confusion even if it's strictly local, I always prefer to spell out (or abbreviate) the month.

So then, my personal recommendation for maximum clarity would be:

I will be out of the office starting January 3, 2022, and will be back in the office on January 31.

  • Yes, in writing, you should always spell out dates rather than using numeric codes. It greatly improves readability.
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 8, 2021 at 20:42

Question One

Do not use an article with numerical dates. A person will pronounce 03.01.2022 as "Three, one, twenty twenty-two." There is no room for an article in this.

We do use the definite article with ordinal numbers:

The third of January
The tenth of May


Question Two

There is no natural way to say what you want to say. In this case, the culture determines the word choice. In a culture of historically English speakers (I have no idea how Indians feel about this) no one cares when your vacation technically ends. They care when you return to work.

So if I were preparing an automated response for Gmail, I would say something like this:

I will be on vacation from 03.01.2022 through 31.01.2022.

Or, more likely,

I will be away from my desk from 03.01.2022 through 31.01.2022.


It is a little unusual to give dates in all-numerical form in such a message, but that is a style choice.

One does not use "the" (or any article) before a date given all in numbers. This form is used only when the day is given as an ordinal, such as "the fifth of March". If one says "March 5" or "5 March" no article is used.

I think it is confusing to give both an end-of-vacation date and a return date. What the caller really cares about is when you will return the call, or when you can again be reached by telephone. So give only the return date, for example:

  • I will be on vacation from 03.01.2022, returning on 31.01.2022.
  • I will be on vacation from 1 January 2022, returning on 31 January 2022.

It would be slightly less formal to say "I will be back in the office on" instead of "returning on" but either is correct, this is a style choice. So one might say:

I will be on vacation from 03.01.2022. I will be back in the office on 31.01.2022.

(another phrase such as "back at work" or "taking calls again" might be substituted depending on the circumstances and personal preference.)

However, there is nothing wrong with "returning on" and many people use it. It is perfectly natural.

One might also include something like "I will return messages starting on 01.02.2022" if messages will not be returned on the day one is back in the office.

One might further include "For urgent matters, call Pat Smith at extension 5897." or some other form of alternate contact statement.

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