Regarding specific dates in fiction

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Is there a consensus regarding the format of dates used in writting? For example:

 

"On the evening of June 1st a computer technician isolated a programming error that caused the port side ballast pumps to run continuously. "

 

Word incates the "1st " is incorrect, yet a later sentence does not point out a similar date:

 

"June 2nd, shortly after sunrise, the MS Zenobia made port at Larnaca, Cyprus. "

 

But in the very next sentence it points it out again:

 

"Late in the evening of June 4th she was ordered to be towed from the harbor..."

 

In the next sentence it is ignored again:

 

"June 5th began long before sunrise"

 

Should the two that are marked wrong be change to June THE 1st, and June THE 4th, respectively?? It sounds odd and looks inconsistent that way (to me).

dates asked Apr 02 '12 at 21:09 Tony Proano Expert

2 answers


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The software is often confused by dates and ordinals. European style dates and commas (or lack thereof) seem to get flagged often.

 

In your samples, the software seems to flag the ordinal when a comma is required (but missing) after the ordinal.

 

"On the evening of June 1st, a computer technician isolated a programming error that caused the port side ballast pumps to run continuously. "

"Late in the evening of June 4th, she was ordered to be towed from the harbor..."

 

Most fiction uses dates sparingly, as Tolley said. "On a sweltering August evening, the harbor master ordered the decrepit wreak towed from his harbor ..."  The day of the week or the month is used to set the scene but the full date only appears occasionaly when it is important to the plot.

 

The style of date used also can establish mood and background. The following examples of an introducotry fiction sentences set very different scenes.

 

"It was a Tuesday, the fifth day of August, in the year of our Lord 1785, when the harbor master finally ordered Captain Horatio's decrepit wreck hauled from his otherwise pristine establishment."

 

"Stardate 2356.096 arrived, and the harbor master could stand no more excuses; he ordered Captain Kirk's decrepit landing craft immediately removed from his field."

link answered Apr 03 '12 at 01:01 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I did not correctly title my question. While the tale I am telling is fiction, the preface contains real events from the sinking of the MS Zenobia in 1980... all dates quoted are the actual historical dates involved. Thank you for your response.

Tony ProanoApr 03 '12 at 02:41

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I would add that using ordinals for days in written dates is more common in British English.  In American English we use the cardinal forms for days in written dates.  In both dialects, we *read* them as ordinal forms (most of the time).

link comment answered Apr 18 '12 at 19:31 Merle Tenney New member

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