Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I always wonder how to denote date and time when I have to make an appointment. To make sure that I don't make typos, I always mention the weekday. What is the correct way to do so?

Appointment at 2014-05-28, 14:00

  1. Could we meet on Wednesday, the 28th of May at 2 o'clock p.m.?
  2. Could we meet on 28th of May at 9 o'clock (it's a Wednesday)?
  3. Could we meet at 2 o'clock p.m. on Wednesday the 28th of May?

    • As far as I know it is very unusual to write 14:00. I think it's only used in military in English speaking countries. Is that correct?
    • What is the best way to make an appointment? Are the four variants I've suggested correct?
    • Do you write "a.m." or "a. m." (with a space)? According to wikipedia:

Some stylebooks suggest the use of a space between the number and the a.m. or p.m. abbreviation.[citation needed]

But the wikipedia article does not use spaces... I've looked it up in the "Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English". It's not written with spaces there. According to this dictionary you can also write am (without dots) in British English.

Appointment on 2014-05-28, 09:45

I don't know how to write this without the hh:mm a.m. / p.m. or h:mm a.m. / p.m. style. Do you really write "quater before 10"?

See also

share|improve this question
    
It is a matter of personal style. I would say "Could we meet on Wednesday 28 May at 1:45pm?" and I would expect to be understood. –  Henry May 3 at 15:05
4  
In British English the 24-hour clock is quite common, both with and without the colon, in writing (but not speech). Your question is highly locale and context specific, but working as I do in a scientific institute in Britain I would naturally write "on Wednesday, 28th May at 1400" at work. I'd not use this form if I anticipate an international audience, as the 24hour clock is treated as very strange at least in the US "Wednesday, 28th May, 2pm". It would also be too impersonal for friends, where I'd write "Wednesday, 28th May at two o'clock". Know your audience! –  Dan Sheppard May 3 at 20:04
    
@DanSheppard: this is exactly what i wanted to know! –  moose May 3 at 20:21
    
@moose - You meet ON a given day AT a particular time. (Your usage is inconsistent.) –  Erik Kowal May 6 at 9:39
1  
As for the space between "a." and "m.": that is never a good idea. Your wiki-quote mentions a space between "a.m." and the number, not between the separate parts of "a.m." :) –  oerkelens May 6 at 11:57

2 Answers 2

Expressing a date and time is a matter of style, whether dictated by a style guide or simply your personal style. There are thus scores of acceptable ways to phrase your meeting request, mixing words and numerals, abbreviations, formatting of the time, and so on. Indeed, there are dozens of permutations possible just on the time alone— adding padding zeroes, dropping zeroes on the hours, or whether to write a.m./p.m. in small-caps, uppercase, lowercase, with and without periods, and with and without a preceding space.

There are some regional or cultural considerations. As you note, 24-hour time is wholly absent in American usage (known as military time, and used only in a handful of industries). But on the whole, I would say communication between colleagues favors brevity and accuracy over formality. Thus, when e-mailing a co-worker, I might simply ask

Are you available at 2 on the 28th?

If there is any ambiguity as to which 2 or which 24th I intend, I would need to indicate additional details:

Are you available to meet at 2pm Mountain on Wednesday the 28th?

Are you available to meet on Wednesday, May 28 at 2 p.m. PDT?

I rarely, if ever, use o'clock or fractional hours in business writing, as it is both quicker to write and more quickly comprehended with numerals: 7:00 am, 7:30 pm. But it is also the case that Americans always reference direction to the hour, whether in speech or writing: quarter till 5, half past 10, 20 after 8, 10 of 6— too cumbersome for me to write. In British English, where one can say half seven and be understood, that usage might be more common.


Across style guides, years, days of the month, hours, and minutes are almost never spelled out.

The service will launch on Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. Denver time.

They are meeting with the vendor on the 4th of March at 12 noon.

We cordially invite you to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Joe's Restaurant on Monday, the 12th of May at 4 o'clock p.m.

Now, you can choose a longer form in order to draw attention to that component, to highlight something unusual or remarkable about it. For example,

She has been working since 5 in the morning

highlights how early she began working, or how long she has been working, whereas

She has been working since 5:00 a.m.

is more strictly factual.

The entire date and time is spelled out only in extremely formal and/or traditional communications:

As a mark of respect for the memory of Neil Armstrong, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff…. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

Dr. and Mrs. Jonathan A. Doe request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Jane Alice to Lieutenant Commander Frederick John Bloggs, son of The Honourable Mary Q. and Mr. Joseph Bloggs, Saturday, the fourteenth of June, two thousand fourteen at half after eleven in the morning, Anytown Country Club, Anytown.

share|improve this answer

I (in the US) would write it as “Could we meet on Wednesday, May 28, at 2:00 PM?” Month-day order, and numeric times.

However, for a formal event like a wedding or graduation, write “Wednesday, the twenty-eighth day of May, two thousand (and) fourteen, at two o'clock in the afternoon”.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.