How to Write the Date in German – Ultimate Guide - LangBox (2024)

Whether it’s on vacations or when working with international clients.

Knowing how to read or write the date in German may help you out in various situations.

Do you want to miss your expensive flight due to an avoidable mistake?

Or miss an important deadline and be considered unreliable?

If the answer is no, this article is for you.

In today’s lesson, I’ll show you how to write and pronounce the date in German. In addition, I’ll provide you with several related words and phrases.

3 Ways of Writing Dates in German

This is how they usually write the date in Germany and other German-speaking countries:

a.) 18.10.2021

While English speakers use slashes “/”, German natives use periods “.” for the short format.

If you are from North America, always remember that Germans put the day before the month. This means the German date format is DD.MM.YYYY instead of MM/DD/YYYY.

Unless you want to pay your German client a surprise visit or show up months too late, you should keep that in mind.

b.) 14. Februar 1995

Let’s take the most romantic day of the year as an example for the long format.

Like in English, the month must be capitalized in German.

Instead of a “th”, a period “.” is put after the day. The period indicates that 14 is an ordinal number.

c.) der erste Mai 2016

The date can also be written in this way. You should only write out numbers under zwölf (12) because the higher numbers are too long to look good in a text.

Keep in mind that the year is always a cardinal number in German. And don’t forget to capitalize the month, as already mentioned above.

The months in German

If you are not familiar with the German months, you may want to have a short look at this list:

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

Don’t forget to put a “z” in Dezember instead of the “c”.

Except for März, the months in German are all pretty similar to their English equivalent. Don’t you think?

You’re a quick learner, aren’t you?

Then you might already be able to name some months in German.

Let’s take a try: Januar, …

Ordinal numbers in German Dates

If you don’t know how to count in German yet, make sure you learn German numbers first. This App will help you memorize German numbers with no big effort.

Those who already have a basic understanding of how German reverse counting works will find these ordinals fairly easy.

Numbers 1 – 19

The only thing you need to do is add a “-te” to the numbers you already know. Here are some examples:

🇩🇪 Der fünfte Mai 2017
🇺🇸 The fifth of May 2017

🇩🇪 Der achte August 1935
🇺🇸 The eighth of August 1935

🇩🇪 Der zehnte Dezember 2025
🇺🇸 The tenth of December 2025

There are only two exceptions you need to remember:

🇩🇪 Der erste Mai
🇺🇸 the first of May

🇩🇪 Der dritte Juni
🇺🇸 the third of July

Only there, you can’t use the cardinal number as a basis for the ordinal.

Easy, isn’t it?

Numbers over 20

For numbers over 20, you have to add a “-ste” instead.

You usually don’t write out those numbers. This is only to show you how to pronounce them:

🇩🇪 Der zwanzigste September
🇺🇸 The 20th of September

🇩🇪 Der siebenundzwanzigste Jänner
🇺🇸 The 27th of January

🇩🇪 Der dreißigste April
🇺🇸 The 30th of April

You need to know that you often have to add an “-n” to the ordinal. For example, when using “am”, which means “on the” in English.

But let me show you what I’m talking about:

🇩🇪 Am zwanzigsten Mai
🇺🇸 On the 20th of May

🇩🇪 Am achtzehnten August
🇺🇸 On the 18th of August

🇩🇪 Am ersten Januar
🇺🇸 On the 1st of January

That’s because the case has changed here. If you want to find out more about this phenomenon, you should look at the German case system.

The Days of the Week in German

German natives are likely to mention the weekday when setting up a date with you. This is why I will quickly provide you with a list of the German weekdays:

  • 🇩🇪 Montag – 🇺🇸 Monday
  • 🇩🇪 Dienstag – 🇺🇸 Tuesday
  • 🇩🇪 Mittwoch – 🇺🇸 Wednesday
  • 🇩🇪 Donnerstag – 🇺🇸 Thursday
  • 🇩🇪 Freitag – 🇺🇸 Friday
  • 🇩🇪 Samstag – 🇺🇸 Saturday
  • 🇩🇪 Sonntag – 🇺🇸 Sunday

Here are some examples of what that can look like:

🇩🇪 Freitag, der 15. Oktober
🇺🇸 Friday, the 15th of October

🇩🇪 Dienstag, der 6. April
🇺🇸 Tuesday, the 6th of April

🇩🇪 Sonntag, der 31. Dezember
🇺🇸 Sunday, the 31st of December

How to ask for the date in German

Does it sometimes happen to you that you have no idea what day it is?

Don’t worry! That happens to me a lot.

At least, I hope that I don’t have to worry about that…


Here are the two most common ways of asking for the date in German:

🇩🇪 Welchen Tag haben wir heute?
🇺🇸 What day is it today?

🇩🇪 Welches Datum haben wir heute?
🇺🇸 What’s the date today?

Here are some other questions that might come in handy:

🇩🇪 An welchem Tag findet das Meeting statt?
🇺🇸 On what day does the meeting take place?

🇩🇪 Wann hast du Geburtstag?
🇺🇸 When is your birthday?

🇩🇪 Wann ist euer Hochzeitstag?
🇺🇸 When did you get married?

🇩🇪 An welchem Tag feiern wir dieses Jahr Weihnachten?
🇺🇸 On which day do we celebrate Christmas this year?

🇩🇪 Wann hat der Zweite Weltkrieg geendet?
🇺🇸 When did the Second Worldwar end?

🇩🇪 An welchen Tagen haben Sie geöffnet?
🇺🇸 On which days are you open?

🇩🇪 An welchen Tagen hast du dieses Jahr frei?
🇺🇸 Which days do you have of this year?

🇩🇪 Wann geht unser Flug nach Berlin?
🇺🇸 When is our flight to Berlin?

🇩🇪 Welches Jahr haben wir?
🇺🇸 What year is it?

You’ll probably only need to ask the last question when waking up during a zombie apocalypse or when you’ve ordered too much beer. But who knows?

Have a nice day!

Greetings! I'm an avid linguist and language enthusiast with a particular focus on German language and culture. Having spent a considerable amount of time immersed in the German-speaking world, both in academic settings and through personal experiences, I've developed a deep understanding of the language nuances and cultural practices. My expertise extends to practical applications, including business interactions and daily communication.

Now, let's delve into the concepts covered in the provided article:

  1. Date Formats in German:

    • Germans use periods (".") instead of slashes ("/") in the short date format. The format is DD.MM.YYYY, with the day preceding the month.
    • Long format example: 14. Februar 1995, where the month is capitalized, and a period is used after the day.
  2. Writing Dates in Different Ways:

    • Dates can also be written out, such as "der erste Mai 2016." Numbers under zwölf (12) are written out, and the year is a cardinal number.
  3. Months in German:

    • German months are similar to their English counterparts, with the only exception being Dezember (December) with a "z" instead of a "c."
  4. Ordinal Numbers in German Dates:

    • Ordinal numbers are formed by adding "-te" to numbers 1-19. Exceptions for "der erste Mai" and "der dritte Juni," where the cardinal number is used.
  5. Numbers over 20:

    • For numbers over 20, add "-ste" to form ordinal numbers. Usually, these numbers are not written out but used for pronunciation.
  6. Days of the Week in German:

    • The German weekdays are listed, and examples of combining weekdays with dates are provided.
  7. Asking for the Date in German:

    • Common phrases for asking about the date, including "Welchen Tag haben wir heute?" (What day is it today?) and "Welches Datum haben wir heute?" (What's the date today?).
  8. Additional Questions:

    • Various questions related to specific dates, events, and occasions in German, including meetings, birthdays, weddings, holidays, historical events, business hours, and flights.

These concepts cover the essentials of reading, writing, and discussing dates in German, ensuring effective communication in various situations. If you have any specific questions or need further clarification, feel free to ask!

How to Write the Date in German – Ultimate Guide - LangBox (2024)
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