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Which is better in the following sentence, "in the year 1769" or "in 1769"?

While he was sailing in Polynesia in the year 1769, the British explorer, Captain James Cook discovered a mysterious island where local people wore tatao.

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There should be no comma after "explorer". – RegDwigнt Feb 15 '12 at 10:24

They are equivalent - the sentence has the same meaning and grammatical correctness either way:

While he was sailing in Polynesia in the year 1769...

While he was sailing in Polynesia in 1769...

The latter form (in 1769) is more common:

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thx for your answer! but..is it possible to tell which way is better in this sentence? – YYY Oct 7 '11 at 21:48
If I have to say one is better, I would say in 1769, because, as Hugo says, it's simpler and completely unambiguous. I must say that the other way is by no means a bad choice, if it appeals to you. – Daniel Oct 8 '11 at 12:39

Both have the same meaning, however "in the year 1769" has a certain rhetorical flourish that is not present in the more perfunctory version. In fact, "in the year of 1769" also means the same, but has an even stronger poetic quality to it.

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Both are correct but I'd go for the simpler in 1769 because it's clear and unambiguous to everyone that the number refers to a year.

Also, tatao is usually spelled tattoo.

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you are right, i should use " " since i actually want to show the orginal spelling.. – YYY Oct 8 '11 at 0:21
Wikipedia says it's "tatau" in Samoan: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tattoo and Joseph Banks of HMS Endeavour spelled it "tattow" in his 1769 journal: archive.org/details/journalofrightho00bankuoft – Hugo Oct 8 '11 at 4:56

Both phrases have the same meaning. In this case, I would choose "in 1769", as it is simpler and unambiguous. You can use "in the year 1769" in this context, but it is not necessary.

However, there are cases where the words "the year" are necessary. If the year is a number like 800 or 2000, simply stating "in 2000" can be confusing to the reader. In cases like these, you should use "in the year 2000".

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