When researching on how to say dates, I came across two different instructions on the same issue: how to say years before and after the year 2000. (Actually I wouldn't expect to hear the rules would be different before and after 2000.)

And I tried to verify the difference and listened some native speakers. Then I saw Cambridge Dictionary and native speakers say different things when it comes to how say the years from 2001, 2002, 2002, ..... until 2010.

Cambridge says: 2003: two thousand-and-three or twenty-oh-three (source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/dates)

A native speaker on oxford online tells to use "full numbers after the year 2000 until 2010., which is exactly the opposite of Cambridge says. (See on youtube, watch between (2:40-3:00) of the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw54Nu1SXcE

why do you think there is such a difference?

2 Answers 2


There is such a difference because there is no single 'official' or 'correct' way to pronounce years in words. For example 1903 can be spoken as 'nineteen three', 'nineteen oh three', 'nineteen hundred and three', and very formally and old-fashioned: 'the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and three' (this may be found in legal proclamations, acts, etc).

How to say years (Cambridge Dictionary)


I have nothing to support my theory but it is the one I use to explain the inconsistency to my Italian private students.

Probably at the turn of the century, when the new millennium was becoming reality and we were all wondering what happened to the flying cars we were promised in cartoons and movies, saying "twenty-oh-oh" sounded unfamiliar, confusing and less impressive than actually saying "two thousand". There were attempts to introduce the year as Y2K ("Y two K"), which sounded nerdy, but it never really took off. Instead the year "two thousand" was immediately comprehensible and it was made up of three syllables rather than the the four syllables of "twen-ty-oh-oh".

Once the majority of speakers were used to saying "two thousand" it's difficult to then revert back to "two, oh, oh, one" (2001) which frankly sounds like the beginning of a phone number. Then there was the famous 1968 Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which everyone read and said "Two thousand (and) one”, so I think that movie played a huge role in speakers' lexical choice.

The following link contains numerous examples from YouTube that show native speakers saying "two thousand (and) five" and not "two oh oh five"

When the year 2010 arrived it became easier (more familiar?) to say "twenty-ten" (just three syllables) although I continued to hear British native speakers say "two-thousand ‘n’ ten” and "two-thousand ‘n’ eleven" for some time.

To prove my point, in this collection of YouTube snippets there are many native speakers of different dialects saying "2012" in two different ways: "twenty twelve" and "two thousand (and) twelve” with and without the "and".

Again, I'm only attempting to explain why neither of the “rules” supplied by OP's sources are 100% right.

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