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Grammar Nuggets: Dates and Commas

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Grammar Nuggets: Dates and CommasDates seem to be confusing for people. When you use a complete date (month, day, and year), you should use a comma before AND after the year.

  • On November 11, 2013, the Veterans’ Day parade will start at 10 a.m., but I will be at work.
  • Please send me your time entries for November 1 to December 31, 2012, so I can prepare the fee application.

Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, if other punctuation is necessary after the year, you would omit the comma immediately after the year.

  • On November 11, 2013 (the federal Veterans’ Day holiday), I will miss the parade because I am working.

Also, if the date is in the day, month, year style (13 November 2013), there are no commas unless the sentence requires a comma for another reason.

 

Where a comma after the year might lead to some confusion, use a semicolon.

  • Our office will be closed on November 22, 23, and 24, 2017; December 22, 25, and 26, 2017; and January 1, 2, and 3, 2018.

Note that my office will NOT be closed on all of those days. Unfortunately, it is for illustrative purposes only and I will be hard at work on most of those days.


Where you are using just the month and year, there are no commas unless the sentence needs it for another reason.

  • The March 2017 totals show a rise in sales.
  •  We spent most of August 2017, the wettest August on record, trying to keep the water from coming into the house. [Here the commas set off a descriptive expression.]

Don't be afraid of commas with dates, just learn to use them correctly.

 


Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, has been a member of NALS for over 30 years, is the Immediate Past President of NALS of Phoenix, and is the Chair of the NALS Editorial + Marketing Board. Kathy is currently the Administrator-Arizona for Sacks, Ricketts & Case in Phoenix, Arizona. Kathy earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Legal Assisting with distinction from Phoenix College. In her spare time, when she is not spending time with her husband, two kids, and seven grandchildren or celebrating something with friends, Kathy writes a blog on proofreading tips at ProofThatBlog.com and a blog on life advice gained in growing older at 60istheNew60Blog.com.

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