How do I start a sentence with a date?

12

3

I want to say:

August 22, 2012, the day my life changed forever and the day I met you.

My only problem is that I don't know how to start a sentence with a date. If someone could help me with this that would be great thanks.

Leah

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 121

6Depending on context, what you wrote is fine. Has someone mentioned a specific problem with that style of writing? – Lawrence – 2018-01-22T13:34:08.763

5Technically speaking your text is just a *noun phrase*, since it lacks the relevant verb *was*. Compare John, the man she met last year and the man she married, which is also just a noun phrase with no copula verb form. It's syntactically irrelevant whether the first part of a noun phrase happens to be a date, such as *May 1st is a bank holiday*. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2018-01-22T14:07:27.057

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." -Franklin D. Roosevelt

– WBT – 2018-01-23T17:37:42.843

Some people get very worked up if they see "sentences without verbs". The UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was often criticised for making speeches with such sentences - or noun phrases as @FumbleFingers points out. But Tony Blair (graduate of Oxford University) did not leave out the verbs because he was ignorant of English grammar; he left them out because he wanted what he said to make an impact.So I would say leave the text just as it is. – JeremyC – 2018-01-23T09:31:19.713

Answers

23

Just add a was or is after the date. Practically speaking, it doesn't really matter which one you use. Either one will work equally fine:

August 22nd, 2012 was the day my life changed forever and the day I met you.

The sentence would actually sound a lot smoother if you rewrite it like this:

August 22nd, 2012 is the day when my life changed forever because it was the day when I met you.

You can make it even shorter:

August 22nd, 2012 changed my life forever because it was the day I met you.

Or shorter still with the day I met you as a parenthetical statement:

August 22nd, 2012—the day I met you—changed my life forever.

Michael Rybkin

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 37 124

1@Leah Either works. If you're telling a story (and therefore using past tense), keep it in past tense. Otherwise it doesn't really matter. – Neil – 2018-01-22T08:53:54.447

Yeah, all of those work ok. Repeating the day when is clumsy. Perhaps August 22nd, 2012 is the day my life changed forever because I met you? – Will Crawford – 2018-01-22T17:48:41.973

What, no colon or semicolon? – Yakk – 2018-01-23T18:31:23.537

15

You could start the sentence with the preposition on

On August 22, 2012, my life changed forever when I met you for the first time.

Mari-Lou A

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 19 962

9

Like @Bilkokuya, I too find the current wording is essentially best, I would just change the punctuation slightly (and remove a word). I would switch the firstsecond comma for a colon, and change the word 'and' into an hyphenm-dash (or n-dash if you're a rebel). Spaces should be removed from around your dash (but it looks ugly so be even more rebellious and leave them in if you feel like it).

August 22, 2012: the day my life changed forever – the day I met you.

As Bilkokuya says 'Any other phrasing makes it sound like a story, and loses the significance.'

mcalex

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 6 050

This is also good because it's compact, and works well both as the introduction to a story, and for the first bullet point (I presume this is for a PowerPoint presentation explaining why you should move in with someone? :o)). – Will Crawford – 2018-01-22T17:50:38.553

2

You need an m-dash there e.g. – not a hyphen e.g. - which is used for compound nouns e.g. a well-known author, You're joining "forever" with "the".

– Mari-Lou A – 2018-01-22T19:06:44.047

1Quite possibly, but isn't that taken care of by software? I must admit em-dash, en-dash, hyphen rules aren't something I pay a lot of attention to. The hyphen (minus, dash) key is what you press to get the symbol. ('Twere all typewriters round here when I were a lad) – mcalex – 2018-01-22T19:32:39.343

Just one opinion here, but I'm not a fan of the colon-dash combination in this sentence. I might be more inclined to go with a full stop, and then add one word: August 22, 2012. It's the day my life changed forever – the day I met you. – J.R. – 2018-01-22T19:36:31.887

I think a colon isn't the best choice for punctuation here. In a case like this, what's on either side of a colon should be independent clauses. (ref UNC Writing Center and punctuationguide.com)

– Gossar – 2018-01-22T21:05:18.920

Editing tip: you can use — to create an em-dash. – user178049 – 2018-01-23T02:33:31.737

I went with ndash. The m is too wide. – mcalex – 2018-01-23T06:21:08.350

2I thought standard typography for this is an em-dash with no space between the dash and the surrounding text on either side. – David K – 2018-01-23T12:39:45.213

@DavidK Either will work: an em-dash with no spaces or en-dash with spaces fore and aft. – Gossar – 2018-01-25T04:12:30.680

4

As others have said, leave the words and change the punctuation.

August 22, 2012—­the day my life changed forever, the day I met you.

But if you need a true sentence (requiring a verb) rather than a phrase, how about,

August 22, 2012 was the day my life changed forever—the day I met you.

This is perhaps more a style question than a usage one. For me, putting a coordinating conjunction like and before "the day I met you" weakens it compared to the original phrasing. I think there should be a progression "August 22, 2012" [mundane], "the day my life changed forever" [special], and finally "the day I met you" [incomparable].

Note: This answer assumes that the reason your life changed forever on that date was because of meeting this person.

Gossar

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 746

I completely agree about the effect of the word "and" in the original sentence. It reverses the expected order of priorities, with a comical effect. I like the idea of replacing "and" with punctuation, though I would prefer to replace "and" with a colon and not to change the comma after "2012". – David K – 2018-01-23T13:05:07.740

If spoken aloud, there's not much difference (if any); typographically I like the dash. For me, a colon requires a verb to precede it. I which case I'd suggest, "August 22, 2012 was the day my life changed: the day I met you." I was taught the main use of a colon was between two fully independent clauses and that even though other uses (like introducing a list) exist, there should always be at least one IC and it comes first. – Gossar – 2018-01-25T04:31:53.033

1

You can use several different approaches. You could insert the verb after the date. (1) You could paraphrase the sentence. (2) You could use a preposition before the date. (3)

  1. August 22nd, 2012, was the day when my life changed forever and the day I met you.
  2. 22nd of August, 2012, changed my life forever because it was then that I met you.
  3. On 22 August 2012 my life changed forever because I met you that day.

You could use this style guide to help you.

You could rephrase it like this:

  • It was the year 2012, the 22nd of August when my life changed forever because I met you.

SovereignSun

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 23 612

1

It depends - most would agree that your sentence is not strictly grammatical with out a main verb. But semantically, the sentence works quite well, and delivers a strong declarative statement about the date as a subject (it's all subject) and its personal importance to the writer. This form, used prudently, is generally acceptable for informal language, and is a matter of style and emphasis, but it is generally unacceptable, for formal use in particular, not to have a main verb.

So as a matter of style, it is a dramatic way to introduce a subject. I would point out that the original does not make it clear that the reason the writer's life changed forever on that day is because someone was met on that day. It could just be a coincidence. The meaning is a bit vague or ambiguous in this regard, which isn't a bad thing. The following, somewhat reduced, has a similar feel, is grammatical and perhaps a bit less ambiguous, but is not as dramatic.

August 22, 2012, the day I met you, my life changed forever.

a version of:

The day I met you, August 22, 2012, my life changed forever.

a version of:

My life changed forever on August 22, 2012, the day I met you.

Certainly, August 22, 2012, the day I met you, the day my life changed forever, is a fine way to begin a story about that day. Yes, it presents a grammar issue but it's not serious if it is done intentionally (and infrequently), and there's nothing inherently wrong with ambiguity - these are devices for writers, some things are better left open-ended and then unpacked in the telling of a story.

Ubu English

Posted 2018-01-22T03:08:34.733

Reputation: 232