We have to model the following situation: a user can define a data item (similar to a task) that has a start date and an end date.

We need to be able to validate the data entered by the user.

There are two situations where we'd like a confirmation we've properly used the English language:

  • start date is less than or equal with end date
  • start date is more than the end date

Have we properly used less and more?

  • 2
    Why not use start date is on or earlier than the end date or start date is later than the end date? Apr 11, 2016 at 8:52
  • @Dan No, your suggestion is not correct. Dates are either earlier or later (or the same). You may be doing an inequality check [startDate>=endDate] but that doesn't produce the right words. Apr 11, 2016 at 8:53
  • No. Both wordings are not English. For a whole number of reasons. First off, as Andrew says, a native speaker would use before and after. "Start date is after end date". Second off, why is there a definite article before "end date", but no article before "start date"? Make your mind up. Either a definite article in both cases, or no article in both cases. Lastly, there is no such thing as "equal with". In English, it's "equal to".
    – ЯegDwight
    Apr 11, 2016 at 10:24
  • 1
    To clarify things a little: within the programming language itself, dates/times are (usually) represented numerically, so that in your code you are literally testing whether date 1 is smaller or larger than date 2 (eg "less than or equal to"). However, in any user-facing text, such as a validation failure feedback message, you would always say "earlier" or "later". Apr 11, 2016 at 10:28
  • 1
    @All: please create answers so I can mark them as such. Thank you very much for your help.
    – Dan
    Apr 11, 2016 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


You have it not quite right.

First off, it's always "less than or equal to...", not "equal with..." (<= is read as "less than or equal to")

Second, the opposite of "less than" is "greater than". ( > is read "greater than")

Third, while I realize in computer science contexts we do talk about dates being greater than or less than because they are all represented numerically, it isn't natural English. If you are writing for a programming-minded audience you could leave the sentences as "start date is less than or equal to end date" and "start date is greater than end date"

If you are not writing for programmers, you'll want to go with

Start date is on or before end date

Start date is after end date


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .