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Full years can be contracted to two digits like

He graduated the university in '92.

What I'd like to ask is how would this sentence be spelled out:

  • "in 'ninety two"?
  • "in ninety two"?
  • maybe, it's pronounced and spelled some other way?
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@BraddSzonye, do you mean the answer "There are only two kinds of documents in current usage that spell out the year -- legal documents, and wedding invitations"? Yes, in these cases using contracted year is likely not the best idea. I'm not sure still, since some style guides suggest to spell out numerals less than 100, and this may be the case. – Alex Mayants Oct 5 '13 at 9:12
No, I'm just referring to that post to confirm that you shouldn't capitalize the year. – Bradd Szonye Oct 5 '13 at 9:18
Also, I doubt that style guides would recommend spelling out any number when it is part of a date. However, you may want to spell out all numbers for poetry, where the precise wording is important to the meter. – Bradd Szonye Oct 5 '13 at 9:23
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Apostrophes are normally used to indicate omitted letters or digits rather than whole words, and the modern tendency is to avoid initial apostrophes anyway. Therefore, I recommend spelling out the year without an apostrophe (and the few examples I could find concur). Note the hyphen:

He graduated in ninety-two.

For the first decade of the century, I recommend spelling out zero as oh or aught, as commonly done in speech:

She graduated in oh-seven.

I would not recommend spelling out years from the present decade in this way, especially for the years 2010–2012. In speech, people tend to say twenty-ten rather than ten, and they may not even realize that you're referring to a year if you write the latter.

We do sometimes use apostrophes for exceptional cases where the usual conventions would be awkward or ambiguous. Therefore, you may want to use an apostrophe for the teen years to help signal that you're writing a year and not a number:

They graduated in ’thirteen.

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