Read & Write Dates in German

Today I’m going to explain to you how to read and write dates in German. I’m not talking about going out with a person of romantic interest. Nor am I talking about the awful fruit. This lesson is about the kind of dates you see on calendars and invitations. How do you say them in German and how do you write them? I’ve got all the answers in this lesson.

This lesson is a part of Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“. Within the e-book, this lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills you are about to learn. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here.

Reading & Writing German Dates: Ordinal Numbers

The first step in this process is learning about ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers are things like “first”, “second”, “third” and so on. These are obviously not exclusive to reading and writing German dates, so I’ll start with how to form them outside of their association with dates.

For the most part, ordinal numbers are the same as the normal numbers (called cardinal numbers), but you add -te to the end of the number. Technically speaking the -t- or -st- transforms the cardinal number (normal counting number) into an ordinal number (number defining an order of things or events) and the -e at the end is an adjective ending that has to match its use (case and gender), but since you are beginners, I’m going to show you how to use it in specific circumstances and avoid the real adjective ending lesson for now. There are a few exceptions to the add -t or -st and -e rule, so I’ll go through the list up to the 13th for a start.

German Ordinal Numbers 1st – 13th

erste – 1st
zweite – 2nd
dritte – 3rd
vierte – 4th
fünfte – 5th
sechste – 6th
siebte – 7th
achte – 8th
neunte – 9th
zehnte – 10th
elfte – 11th
zwölfte – 12th
dreizehnte – 13th

German Ordinal Numbers 13th – 19th

Since all of the numbers from 13 to 19 end with -zehn, you have the same pattern for all of them.

dreizehnte – 13th
vierzehnte – 14th
fünfzehnte – 15th
sechzehnte – 16th
siebzehnte – 17th
achtzehnte – 18th
neunzehnte – 19th

German Ordinal Numbers 19th – 29th

After 19, the numbers end with -zwanzig and in order to make them into ordinal numbers, you add -ste.

zwanzigste – 20th
einundzwanzigste – 21st
zweiundzwanzigste – 22nd
dreiundzwanzigste – 23rd
vierundzwanzigste – 24th
fünfundzwanzigste – 25th
sechsundzwanzigste – 26th
siebenundzwanzigste – 27th
achtundzwanzigste – 28th
neunundzwanzigste – 29th

German Ordinal Numbers 30th and Beyond

Numbers after 29 follow the same pattern by adding -ste to the end. This includes not only the two numbers I’ll show you for the purposes of dates, but also every number up to 100. It should be mentioned that the word for 100th does not include a pronunciation-aiding -e like you saw with regular verb conjugation. So the 100th is hundertste. The only two numbers you need with dates after 29 are as follows

dreißigste – 30th
einunddreißigste – 31st

German Dates are Masculine

If you want to read or write the date in German, you can form your sentence similarly to what you do in English. Keep in mind that dates are masculine, so everything uses “der” or a variant thereof. For example:

Heute ist der elfte Februar.
Today is the eleventh of February.

Morgen ist der zwölfte Februar.
Tomorrow is the twelfth of February.

Übermorgen ist der dreizehnte Februar.
The day after tomorrow is the thirteenth of February.

Der vierte Juli ist ein Feiertag in den USA.
The fourth of July is a holiday in the USA.

Der dritte Oktober ist für Deutschland ähnlich.
The third of October is similar for Germany.

Writing Dates in German

When writing specific dates in German, the order is slightly different from the order used in the USA. For those familiar with British English, there is no difference. In America, we usually write dates with the month first then the day and finally the year. In British English and in German and pretty much everywhere in the world except in the USA, we write the day first, then the month and finally the year. This is just another example of Americans being unique like when we use of feet and inches instead of meters and centimeters. Also, Germans write dates with periods between the day, month and year, whereas English speakers generally write them with slash marks or hyphens, although it is acceptable to write English dates with periods between the numbers. Here are some historical dates and how to read them in German and American English.

am + Ordinal Number = on the #

If you want to say “on the” followed by a date in German, you use the preposition “an” plus “dem” and then the ordinal number with an -n at the end. “An” and “dem” are almost always shortened to “am”. Here are a few examples of that plus the writing rules from the previous paragraph.

FINDE EINEN MUTTERSPRALICHEN LEHRER ONLINE / FANG AN ZU SPRECHEN

30.1.1974 – der dreißigste Januar neunzehnhundertvierundsiebzig
January 30, 1974 – 1/30/1975
Am dreißigsten Ersten neunzehnhundertvierundsiebzig wurde Christian Bale geboren.
On the 30th of January (the first month) 1974, Christian Bale was born.

3.3.1847 – der dritte März achtzehnhundertsiebenundvierzig
March 3, 1847 – 3/3/1847
Am dritten Dritten achtzehnhundertsiebenundvierzig wurde Alexander Graham Bell geboren.
On the 3rd of March (the third month) 1847, Alexander Graham Bell was born.

3.10.1990 – der dritte Oktober neunzehnhundertneunzig
October 3, 1990 – 10/3/1990
Am dritten Zehnten feiern die Deutschen Tag der Deutschen Einheit.
On the 3rd of October (the 10th month), Germans celebrate Day of German Unity.

No “in” with Years

In English when we say something happened in a particular year, we use “in” before the year. In German this preposition is not only not necessary, but is actually incorrect to be included. Pay attention to the difference in the translation for each of the following examples.

2010 habe ich meine Frau geheiratet.
In 2010 I married my wife.

2012 wurde meine Tochter geboren.
In 2012 my daughter was born.

2016 wurde mein Sohn geboren.
In 2016 my son was born.

Months in German

Now you have most of the parts you need in order to read, write and say dates in German. The only part left is the names of the months in German. Here they are:

Januar – January
Februar – February
März – March
April – April
Mai – May
Juni – June
Juli – July
August – August
September – September
Oktober – October
November – November
Dezember – December

List of Major Holidays in German with Their Dates

Januar – January

  • der erste Januar: Am ersten Januar feiern wir Neujahr.

Februar – February

  • der zweite Februar: Groundhog Day (Murmeltiertag)
  • der zwölfte Februar: Abraham Lincolns Geburtstag
  • der vierzehnte Februar: Valentinstag
  • der neunzehnte Februar: Batmans Geburtstag
  • der zwanzigste Februar: Presidents’ Day (Tag der Präsidenten)
  • der siebenundzwanzigste Februar: Rosenmontag
  • der achtundzwanzigste Februar: Karneval/Mardi Gras

März – March

  • der sechste März: Unabhängigkeitstag in Ghana (heute)

April – April

  • der sechzehnte April: Ostern

Mai – May

  • der fünfundzwanzigste Mai: Vatertag (Deutschland)
  • der neunundzwanzigste Mai: Memorial Day (Gedenktag)
  • der dreißigste Mai: Hawkmans Geburtstag

Juni – June

  • der vierte Juni: Pfingstsonntag
  • der fünfte Juni: Pfingstmontag
  • der achtzehnte Juni: Vatertag (USA)

Juli – July

  • der sechsundzwanzigste Juli: Fidel Castro Tag

August – August

  • der achte August ist das Augsburger Hohe Friedensfest

September – September

  • der elfte September: Patriot Day
  • der einundzwanzigste September: Earth, Wind, and Fire Tag
  • der zweiundzwanzigste September: Native American Day

Oktober – October

  • der dritte Oktober: Tag der Deutschen Einheit
  • der neunte Oktober: Lief Erikson Tag
  • der dreizehnte Oktober: Freitag der dreizehnte

November – November

  • der fünfzehnte November: Herr Antrims Geburtstag
  • der neunzehnte November: Volkstrauertag
  • der dreiundzwanzigste November: Thanksgiving (USA)

Dezember – December

  • der sechste Dezember: Nikolaustag
  • der siebte Dezember: Pearl Harbor Gedenktag
  • der zehnte Dezember: 2. Advent
  • der siebzehnte Dezember: 3. Advent
  • der vierundzwanzigste Dezember: Heiligabend
  • der einunddreißigste Dezember: Silvester

Beginner German with Herr Antrim

Herr Antrim’s new e-book “Beginner German with Herr Antrim“ is your guide to having your first conversation in German. Within the e-book, each lesson includes a worksheet and answer key to practice the skills in that lesson. You will also get access to online flashcards and a whole lot more. Find out more about the e-book here.

Lessons within “Beginner German with Herr Antrim”

  1. Pronunciation
    1. Vowel Pronunciation
    2. Consonant Pronunciation
    3. Consonant Combinations
    4. Pronunciation Practice with Tongue Twisters
  2. Greetings
  3. Farewells
  4. Du vs Ihr vs Sie
  5. What to Say If You Don’t Understand Something in German
  6. das Alphabet
  7. Was macht er? Popular German Verbs Vocabulary Building Exercise
  8. Subject Pronouns & Present Tense Conjugation
    1. German Subject Pronouns
    2. German Present Tense Conjugation
  9. Basic German Questions & Answers
  10. German Question Word Order & Question Words
  11. Describe Yourself in German
  12. Present Tense of “sein”
  13. Present Tense of “haben”
  14. German Family Vocabulary
  15. German Numbers 1-100
  16. Time Word Order in German
  17. Reading & Writing Dates in German
  18. German Word Order Basics
  19. Shopping Vocabulary in German
  20. Your First German Conversation
Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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