I'm a bit confused about whether the term "due date" is inclusive or exclusive, i.e. if I need to complete a task before that date or if I can still complete the task on the date itself (assuming I'm only provided with a date, not a time).

"Submitting a task by X" is equally ambiguous.

If I complete a task on the due date of that task, is the task overdue?


Usually, when we ascribe a "due date" - that is when we literally use the words "due date" - we mean that a thing is required on the specified date.

This is simply the meaning of due


expected (to happen, arrive, etc.) at a particular time:
What time is the next train due?
[ + to infinitive ] The meeting is now due to take place next week.


So "due date" would typically mean the date on which something is required or expected.

"Submit a task by X" is not ambiguous. It means submit the task on or before X.

Again, this is simply the meaning of by


not later than; at or before:
She promised to be back by 10 p.m.


I suspect the difficulty, or the ambiguity might actually come from the meaning of the date. Does Friday mean Friday at 9:00am, any time on Friday, one minute before the end of the day on Friday?

But if this level of specificity is included in the "due date" or "due by" there is no ambiguity. "Task X has a due date of 9:00am, 01/01/2019" unambiguously means task X must be completed on or before 01/01/2019 at 9:00am. "Task X must be done by 9:00am, 01/01/2019" has the same meaning.

  • Thanks for your answer, however what it tells me is that "due date" will always be ambiguous. If something is required on a specific date, and there is not a specific timestamp to it, then no one can tell if it's required at the beginning or at the end of that date. Is this what you mean? The ambiguity is removed when you add a specific timestamp but that was not the purpose of my question. I always thought that "due date is 6th of February" meant I still have time to do it on (by the end of) the 6th of February but I'm finding instances where they say 6th of February is already overdue. – djeidot Feb 4 at 11:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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