Date and time notation in Italy

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Date[edit]

In Italy, the all-numeric form for dates is in the order "day month year", using a stroke as the separator. Example: 31/12/1992 or 31/12/92. Sometimes a dot or a hyphen is used instead of the stroke. Years can be written with two or four digits, and day and month may be written with or without a leading zero. Months and week days are generally written with a lowercase letter; uppercase is common, but not entirely correct since they are not considered proper nouns and have, at least in theory, a plural form. A very common mistake is to drop the final accent in week days names from lunedì (Monday) to venerdì (Friday): thus lunedi, martedi, mercoledi, giovedi, venerdi are all wrong.

The expanded form is "22 dicembre 2010", optionally with the day of the week: "mercoledì 22 dicembre 2010".[1]

The first day of the month is usually written 1º dicembre or 1° dicembre; 1 dicembre is also considered correct. This is always pronounced il primo di dicembre and never l'uno di dicembre. The other days of the month follow the usual cardinal form.

Two-digit years may be used in the expanded form, but in this case they are prefixed by an apostrophe: "(mercoledì) 22 dicembre '10" . This notation is considered informal. Sometimes it can be found also "(mercoledì) 22 dicembre '010".

The first day of the week in Italy is Monday, but for the Church the first day is Sunday.

Time[edit]

The 24-hour notation is used in writing with a dot or a colon as a separator. Example: 14.05 or 14:05. It is common also to use the comma as a separator (14,05), even if this is generally considered wrong. The minutes are written with two digits; the hour numbers can be written with or without leading zero.

In oral communication 12-hours are prominently used since 24-hours are considered very formal. In 12-hours, hour figures are always preceded by the definitive article and a.m. or p.m. are never used. L'una di pomeriggio is 1 p.m. (1 in the afternoon), le due (di pomeriggio) is 2 p.m., le tre (di pomeriggio) is 3 p.m. etc. Hours after sunset or dusk (but in some cases even just after noon) are given as le sette di sera ("7 in the evening"), le otto di sera (8 in the evening) and so on until 11 p.m. which is le undici di sera. Midnight is simply mezzanotte. Following hours are l'una (di notte) (1 a.m., "1 in the night"), le due (di notte) (2 a.m.) or sometimes l'una del mattino (1 in the morning), le due del mattino. After dawn, hours are le otto (del mattino) (8 a.m.), le nove (del mattino) (9 a.m.) until 11 a.m. Midday (noon) is mezzogiorno. 12-hours may be used with approximate time, such as le tre e un quarto (a quarter past three) or with precise time (le tre e diciotto, 03:18 or 15:18). Whether one is referring to a.m or p.m. is generally implicit in the context of the conversation; otherwise, more information must be provided in order to avoid confusion: le tre e diciotto del pomeriggio (3:18 p.m.).

In some parts of the country (e.g. Tuscany, Sardinia) only mattina e sera are used in everyday speech: thus le due di sera is 2 p.m. or 14:00 and le due di mattina is 2 a.m. or 02:00. Furthermore in Tuscany, until recent times, l'una was virtually unknown: Tuscans used to say il tocco ("the toll", referring to the church bell) instead for both 1 p.m. or 13:00 and 1 a.m. or 01:00.

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