Why do Americans write the date backwards?
American date: spelling
(NOTE: We have updated this article and put it on our USA latest portal zeitgeistUSA.de set. Please read the article there: American date and the spelling)
The spelling of the American date leads to confusion around the world, because from an international point of view, the 'only digit spelling', e.g. 3-12-2001, can easily be misinterpreted:
In the USA, in the classic spelling, which is still very common, the month is put in front of the day!
Therefore, 3-12-2001 means: March 12, 2001 and not about Dec 3, 2001!
Another American spelling is then the variant that the month is written out: March 12, 2001.
This is also the common language.
Now, this knowledge alone is not enough to correctly interpret an American date, because in some companies with global thinking, a European spelling is simply adopted in order to be 'the same' internationally. Since the reader would not know how the date is meant, the month is usually written as an alpha abbreviation (Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.) instead of a number to avoid confusion.
Whoever fills out official forms
1) ... must see exactly how the date is desired. This is usually indicated with a generic example: MM / DD / YY or something like that
2) will mostly come across the classic spelling MM-DD-YY (YY).
In the informal area or on invoices, checks etc., however, you can also write DD-MMM-YY (YY). So: as long as you write out the month or use it as an abbreviation, everything is clear.
DD-MM-YY (YY) should be avoided, as the reader will not know how it is meant.
How about your English while traveling?
More on our American English portal: English Language Portal
Or view the English phrasebook here on Amazon - what's up?
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