1

Same question for this date: October 1, 1958

Is it "october first, nineteen fifty eight" or "october the first, nineteen fifty eight"?

Do we say "the" between the month and the day number?

4

The standard way for an American to speak the date represented by October 1, 1958 is October first, nineteen fifty-eight, as exemplified in Franklin Roosevelt's speech declaring war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Yesterday, December seventh, nineteen forty-one, a date which will live in infamy …

There are numerous variations, however. October the first, nineteen fifty-eight would neither be incorrect nor particularly unusual, nor particularly regional. A different president, announcing a different war, addressed Congress with

On September the eleventh, enemies of freedom committed an act of war …

but I would note that in every transcript, the the is always deliberately inserted— September the 11th or September the eleventh— it is not unconsciously "inserted" by the reader, and must be explicitly mentioned to make an accurate transcript.

Another variation would be October first, nineteen hundred and fifty-eight, though this is rarer and usually done for rhetorical effect, to make the date longer and sound more ostentatious. To say the first of October, nineteen fifty-eight is also accepted, though most Americans would not read out a date printed as October 1, 1958 in that way. This format feels heavier, perhaps because is spoken and printed this way in legal and other very formal documents:

This agreement shall be effective at noon, Mountain Standard Time, on the 21st day of February, 2015

Col. and Mrs. Robert Delarue request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Mary Elizabeth to John Anderson Connor, Saturday, the twelfth of June, twenty-eleven, at half past one in the afternoon.

Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America … do hereby proclaim September 28, 2013, as National Hunting and Fishing Day…. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

Slightly off topic, but I would note that while Fourth of July is the commonest way to refer to Independence Day, when referring to the date and not the holiday, the usual rules apply: the recorded phone greeting for my bank might chirp

Our offices will be closed from July second through July fourth for the Independence Day holiday

  • Thanks for your answer. But for a serious formal oral presentation, would you recommend me to say “July twenty ninth” or “July the twenty ninth”? – user50746 Oct 7 '14 at 2:09
  • 2
    @user50746 July twenty ninth is conventional everywhere; I myself would say July the twenty-ninth only for emphasis (e.g. if there were multiple dates in July, and I wanted to emphasize that I was referring to a different date) or rhetorical effect (e.g. to draw special attention to a date as the signifier of something momentous). – choster Oct 7 '14 at 2:13
  • @choster 'Conventional everywhere'? Not in Australian English. – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 7 '14 at 6:01
  • @GastonÜmlaut The question and answer specifically ask about American English. So yes, conventional everywhere within the context of the question and the answer. – choster Oct 7 '14 at 14:49
  • @choster Wow, somehow I completely missed the mention of 'American English' in the question, sorry! – Gaston Ümlaut Oct 9 '14 at 22:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.