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How to express the date

We begin this week with an introduction to the expressions of the date and the week.
Li Hui: Wow, tài hǎo le!
Li Yameng: Lydia, what are you doing? Why are you so excited?
Li Hui: I’m checking Jay Chou’s concert.
Li Yameng: Jay Chou? I’m also his fan. What’s the date of his concert?
Li Hui: June 15. 6 yuè 15 hào. Do you want to come with me?
Li Yameng: Why not? What’s the date today?
Li Hui: Today is June 3. Jīntiān shì 6 yuè 3 hào.
Li Yameng: “6 yuè 3 hào” is the Chinese way of saying the date. Do you remember how to count the number in Chinese?
Li Hui: Let’s try it together. 1 2 3 4 5
Li Yameng: That’s enough, Lydia.
Li Hui: OK.
Li Yameng: Number plus “yuè” is used to express the month. “Yuè” literally means “month”.
Li Hui: OK, then let’s count the months together. yīyuè èryuè sānyuè sìyuè wǔyuè liùyuè qīyuè bāyuè jiǔyuè shíyuè shíyīyuè shíèryuè
Li Yameng: As for the exact date, we will use number plus “hào” or “rì”. “Hào” is used in speaking. We usually use “rì” instead of “hào” in written Chinese.
Li Hui: When we express dates in Chinese, we observe the principle of putting the bigger units before the smaller ones. So the correct order in Chinese should be year, plus month, plus date. Like, “2019 nián 5 yuè 1 hào”.
Here, number plus “nián” is used to express the year. Well, now let’s take a look at the complete structure of this sentence.
Li Yameng: Subject plus “shì” plus “yuè”, “hào”.
The subject should be a noun of time, like “jīntiān, míngtiān, zuótiān”.
Could you fill in the blanks in the sentence below?
Li Hui: Besides what you said, the subject can also be a festival or birthday. Amy, do you know any traditional festivals in the Western countries?
Li Yameng: Yeah, like most of the Chinese, I know “Shèngdànjié, Qíngrénjié, Xīnnián”.
Li Hui: Yeah, and these festivals are more and more popular in China.
Li Yameng: Now practice again. Please try by yourself.
Li Hui: Talking about “Xīnnián”, the New Year, Chinese New Year’s Day is also called the Spring Festival. “Chūnjié” falls on different dates of the Gregorian calendar. Amy, do you know the reason?
Li Yameng: Mm-hm. We used to follow the lunar calendar, with month is determined by the phases of the moon. So the date varies on the Gregorian calendar.
Li Hui: Yep, Chinese also use the Gregorian calendar now, but our traditional festivals still follow the lunar calendar. So if you want to know the date of Chinese New Year, you may say, Zhōngguó Xīnnián shì jǐyuè jǐhào?
Or Zhōngguó Chūnjié shì jǐyuè jǐhào?
Do you remember “jǐ” in the sentence “Nǐ jiā yǒu jǐ kǒu rén”? “Jǐ” is our question word for number, meaning “which.” In this question, Zhōngguó Xīnnián shì jǐyuè jǐhào?
“jǐyuè jǐhào” means “which month” and “which dates”? The numbers refer to the month and the date. So if you want to know the date of today, you just say “Jīntiān shì jǐhào?”.
Li Yameng: But I like to say “Jīntiān jǐhào?”
Li Hui: Me, too. Chinese like to make things easy. In speaking, we may just say “Jīntiān jǐhào?”
Li Yameng: “shì” is optional in this expression. For example, Lydia, Nǐ de shēngrì jǐyuè jǐhào?
Li Hui: Wǒ de shēngrì 7 yuè 7 hào. Nǐ ne?
Li Yameng: Wǒ de shēngrì 6 yuè 5 hào.
Li Hui: Jīntiān shì 6 yuè 3 hào.
So your birthday is on Wednesday?
Li Yameng: Yeah, Wednesday. Xīngqīsān. “Xīngqī” plus number can be used to express the date. So you see? It’s super easy to say each day of the week in Chinese.
Li Hui: Mm-hm. So now let’s practise to say the days of the week. xīngqīyī xīngqīèr xīngqīsān xīngqīsì xīngqīwǔ xīngqīliù xīngqītiān or xīngqīrì.
Instead of saying “xīngqīqī”, we call Sunday “xīngqītiān” or “xīngqīrì”.
Li Yameng: Lydia, Nǐ de shēngrì shì xīngqījǐ?
Li Hui: Wǒ de shēngrì shì xīngqītiān!
Li Yameng: Xīngqītiān? Great.
Li Yameng: Lydia, do you know teacher Zhu’s birthday is coming? Maybe we can hold a small party for her.
Li Hui: Oh, really?
Li Yameng: Yeah.
Li Hui: Tā de shēngrì shì jǐyuè jǐhào?
Li Yameng: Tā de shēngrì shì 6 yuè 11 hào.
Li Hui: Xīngqījǐ?
Li Yameng: : Xīngqīèr.
Li Hui: Xīngqīèr,
I will join you.
Li Yameng: Sure.

Four important concepts are introduced right after the conversation of our two teachers.


  • 年(nián) year
    In Chinese, we say each digit and put 年(nián) at the end.
    2019年 二零一九年 (èr líng yī jiǔ nián)

  • 月(yuè) month
    In Chinese, the months are numbered in sequence. If you know how to count numbers in Chinese, you can easily master how to say month in Chinese.

一月(yīyuè) 二月(èryuè) 三月(sānyuè) 四月(sìyuè) 五月(wǔyuè)

六月(liùyuè) 七月(qīyuè) 八月(bāyuè) 九月(jiǔyuè)

十月(shíyuè) 十一月(shíyīyuè) 十二月(shíèryuè)

  • 日(rì) day of the month(formal)
    5月1日 五月一日(wǔyuè yī rì)

    号(hào) day of the month(informal)
    5月1号 五月一号(wǔyuè yī hào)

The correct order of expressing the date in Chinese should be year+month+date because we observe the principle of putting the bigger unit before the smaller one.

Think: How to say February 14, 2019 in Chinese? 今天(是)几月几号?(Jīntiān (shì) jǐ yuè jǐ hào?) is used for asking about the date and 是(shì) is optional in this question. Here “几(jǐ)” is used to ask about the number(the number in the date).

  • Besides the expressions of the date, we also talk about the expressions of the week.

    星期一(xīngqīyī) 星期二(xīngqīèr) 星期三(xīngqīsān)

    星期四(xīngqīsì) 星期五(xīngqīwǔ) 星期六(xīngqīliù)


你的生日是星期几? (Nǐ de shēngrì shì xīngqījǐ?) means “what’s the day of your birthday?”.

Think:How to answer the above question?

This video provides several examples with situational usages to introduce the patterns of asking the date and the week. You might want to use them in your daily life promptly.

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