Column: How to get your Valentine’s date just right


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

Chivalry isn’t dead – yet. Follow these tips to make sure your Valentine’s date wants to smooch you into oblivion at the end of the night. After all, yours truly was quite the dating doyen prior to shifting my interests to grammar.

For instance, women love it when you open doors for them. They love it when you open jars for them. However, women don’t like it when you open their mail and read it before they get home from work. They also aren’t too happy when you open their medicine cabinets to check which prescriptions they’re taking. Trust me.

Now that you’re getting your dating life figured out, I want to tell you how to properly write dates. Perhaps your shortcomings in writing dates correctly are having an effect on whether or not you’re getting romantic dates. It could be.

Anyway, according to the AP Stylebook, you should use figures for dates and years, and don’t use -st, -nd, -rd, or -th with dates. So, you shouldn’t write February 14th or February fourteenth; always write February 14. You wouldn’t write Nineteen hundred and eighty-five (although that’s one of my favorite Wings songs); you should always write out 1985.

As if that weren’t enough mind-blowing clarity on writing dates, I have more rules to lay on you. When it comes to months, they are always capitalized. The months of March, April, May, June and July should never be abbreviated, but you should abbreviate the remaining months when they’re followed by a date (e.g., Feb. 14). The correct abbreviations for these months are Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec.

Add -s (but no apostrophe) after numbers when you’re writing decades or centuries (e.g., the 1900s). Do add an apostrophe when you’re writing a decade if numerals are omitted (e.g., the ’20s).

I’m going to throw this in because I’m sure you’re wondering: The word February comes from a Roman festival of washing and purification (called Februa) that happened every spring. It was previously known as Lupercalia, which was a violent, sexually charged fertility festival. In the late fifth century A.D., Pope Gelasius replaced this pagan holiday with St. Valentine’s Day, which remembers the martyrdom of St. Valentine on Feb. 14, 269.

If you want to speak the language of love to your sweetheart, make sure you know how to write dates the right way. Otherwise, the only dates you’ll be getting are the kind that are less-good versions of raisins.