Dates in Spanish
This is an overview of the rules and conventions for writing and saying dates in Spanish.
First of all, make sure you know the names of Spanish months and weekdays.
January = enero
February = febrero
March = marzo
April = abril
May = mayo
June = junio
July = julio
August = agosto
September = septiembre
October = octubre
November = noviembre
December = diciembre
Here you can find more, including rules of use and common mistakes, about Spanish months.
Monday = lunes
Tuesday = martes
Wednesday = miércoles
Thursday = jueves
Friday = viernes
Saturday = sábado
Sunday = domingo
Here you can find more about Spanish weekdays, including the explanation of origin of the individual words, which is, for most, actually the same as for English weekdays, although it doesn’t seem so at the first glance.
The most important thing to remember about Spanish months and weekdays is that, unlike English, they are never capitalized, except of course at the beginning of a sentence.
Spanish days: cardinal vs. ordinal
One last thing we need for dates is the day. In English, the day in dates comes as ordinal number, e.g. first, second, third etc. It is different in Spanish.
In general, Spanish language uses ordinal numbers much less than English – they are often replaced by cardinal numbers, e.g. one, two, three etc. For example, Spanish won’t say “the fourth of July”. Instead it is:
el cuatro de julio = the “four” of July
The only exception is the first day of month, where Spanish often uses the ordinal numeral “primero” instead of the cardinal “uno”.
el primero de mayo = the first of May
That said, especially in Spain it is common to use the cardinal number “uno” for the first day as well:
el uno de mayo = the “one” (meaning the first) of May
Whether you use a cardinal or ordinal number, you should always put the masculine definite article el before the day. It is masculine after the Spanish word for day – el día.
If you need a refresher on the numbers from 1 to 31, including some hints how to remember them, see Spanish numbers.
Prepositions: de and del
You may have noticed in the examples above that the day and the month are linked with the preposition de. The same preposition is used for linking the month and the year. This is the last piece of the puzzle you need to be able to say any date in Spanish. The general pattern is:
el + day + de + month + de + year
For example, 6 December 1978 is pronounced:
el seis de diciembre de 1978
(this date is the Spanish Constitution Day – Día de la Constitución, an important holiday in Spain)
Sometimes, usually in more formal language, the preposition del is used instead of de before the year (never before the month):
el seis de diciembre del 1978
Day always before month
Unlike English, where you can say “July the fourth” as well as “fourth of July”, in Spanish the day always comes before the month; “julio el cuatro” would be very confusing for a native Spanish speaker.
Writing Spanish dates
When writing dates in the short (numbers only) format:
- Day always comes before the month, not vice-versa.
- The most common separators are dots (without spaces), hyphens, or slashes.
- Leading zeros are usually omitted (unless required for technical reasons).
- Roman numbers are sometimes used for the month, though much less frequently than standard Arabic numbers.
- The year can be abbreviated to the last two digits (as long as it won’t confuse the reader).
Some of the common Spanish date formats are the following (all examples are 30 September 2018):
When writing dates with the month as a word:
- Day still comes before the month.
- Month name is not capitalized.
- No comma or other separator.
- The article “el” before the day is not included when writing a date on its own (only when the date is part of a sentence).
- The conjunctions “de” are usually written before both the month and the year.
- It is less common to abbreviate the year – usually write all the four digits.
30th September 2018 would typically be written like this:
30 de septiembre de 2018
The day is almost always written with digits rather than words, except the first day of month, which is often written as “primero”. 1st October 2018 would be:
primero de octubre de 2018
When writing the first day of month as a number, a small superscript “o” is included after the numeral, as in primero:
1o de octubre de 2018
When including the day of week, it is simply written at the beginning of the date, before the day, and without any additional prepositions or separators:
lunes 15 de agosto de 2018
Useful words and phrases
Besides numbers and the names of months and weekdays, these are some of the words and phrases that may be useful when talking about dates in Spanish:
date = la fecha
day = el día
week = la semana
month = el mes
year = el año