Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Why does America write the month before the day? ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: Why does America write the month before the day?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: markabe-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 28 Jul 2002 23:53 PDT
Expires: 27 Aug 2002 23:53 PDT
Question ID: 46354
In Australia, when we express the 24th of March, 2002 with numbers, we
write 24/03/02. In America, they would write 03/24/02.

It seems to be more logical to write it as day/month/year, that way it
goes up in ascending order, whereas month/day/year goes down (month to
day) then back up (day to year). But there's probably a good reason
why Americans do it differently.

Why do Americans write the month, then the date?

Clarification of Question by markabe-ga on 05 Aug 2002 19:11 PDT
OK. Um, I wasn't actually trying to say that Australia was better or
more logical than America because of the way we write dates as

If you read the question again, I stated that it would seem more
logical to write the measurements-of-time in either ascending or
descending order.

So either day/month/year (ascending)
or year/month/day (descending)

No offence was intended against America!
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
Answered By: aditya2k-ga on 10 Aug 2002 22:33 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi Markabe,

  In English, we have the American form, June 23, 1998, and the
British form, 23 June 1998. Hence, the Americans write 06/23/1998 and
the British 23/06/1998.

  However, neither of the two is the standard form. The international
standard (ISO 8601, 1988) of writing the date is YYYY-MM-DD

  This ISO 8601 format for dates has a number of good features. 
-It has a four-digit year. 
-It is unambiguous around the world. 
-It can easily be sorted by a computer. 
-And since nobody was using it before, it avoids favoring the
traditions of any one country over another.


Additional Links

ISO 8601: the Right Format for Dates

International Date Format Campaign

Search strategy

american date format
american date format history
international date formats
iso 8601
markabe-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Makes sense to me. Well done!

Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: robertskelton-ga on 29 Jul 2002 00:24 PDT
The best two guesses I found online are:

That is the way the dates are spoken in the USA ie "March 10",
therefore 3-10-02

They just have to do things different than everyone else... upside
down light switches, not using metric, etc

The US military uses the European way.

To save confusion, everyone on this planet should use the ISO date
notation of YYYY-MM-DD. There are lots of good reasons for this choice
listed at
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: johnfrommelbourne-ga on 29 Jul 2002 04:54 PDT
If we Australians are so logical then why do most verbalise the date
the same as Americans write it yet write it the opposite way to what
we say it. For instance if asked I would say my birthday was January
the third,i.e month first day second,yet if asked to write it I would
write it the opposite way as Third of January then the year, which you
suggest is logical.
  You may also like to consider what is logical with Australians about
being consistent with all the letters of the alphabet in the way they
are spoken in regards Americans but with one excepetion being ZEDD for
Z. Just why would we be happy with Cee for C,  Dee for D, E for Eee,
Gee for G etc but when it comes to Z which if all things were equal
should be Zee we alter it completely and at odds with all other
letters and call it ZED for no obvious logical reason at all.
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: d014w8-ga on 29 Jul 2002 08:13 PDT
In which case according to johnfrommelbourne, the letters K, L and M
would be pronounced Kee, Lee and Mee respectively. Which sort of
invalidates that argument.
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: jeanluis-ga on 29 Jul 2002 09:00 PDT
If its any consolation to jonfrommelbourne, Canadaians also say ZED
rather than the American ZEE...
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: kukhi-ga on 29 Jul 2002 12:24 PDT
A good deal of our "backward-ness" stems from the time of the
Revolutionary War, at which time we were ardently trying to break away
from the British and wean ourselves out from under the rule of the
monarchy.  So in utter rebellion of common English ways, a good lot of
English traditions were done backwards, in sorts, to mock the crown. 
One way was to run horse races counterclockwise, as opposed to
clockwise, another was to switch the order of a written date to 
month-day-year; although, most of Europe tends to write the date in
the same mannerso we were rebelling against the whole of Europe in a
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: heyhey-ga on 31 Jul 2002 04:51 PDT
Kind of like a distress signal?? Like flying the flag upside down?
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: lisarea-ga on 05 Aug 2002 19:55 PDT
As someone said, I'd always understood it was to mimic the way it's

If anyone wants to make a go at answering the question, you might try
looking through at Noah Webster. He was responsible for most of the
spelling differences between British and American English, and seems a
likely candidate.
Subject: Re: Why does America write the month before the day?
From: iso8601-ga on 31 Oct 2002 16:33 PST
Astronomers and Scientists have been comfortable with using both
YYYY-MM-DD and YYYY-MMM-DD for a couple of Centuries now, especially
due to the easy sorting order (They also reference all Date and Time
to UTC).

There is already a whole category about ISO 8601 in the Google
Directory. See:

ISO 8601 is also an Internet Standard through the recent RFC 3339.

It is mentioned in the HTML 4.01 standards, as well as in most
XML-schema languages.

It solves world ambiguity.

Why doesn't Google Answers use it?

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy