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People refer to the days of the month as following:

  • 1 de enero = uno de enero o primero de enero.
  • 2 de enero = dos de enero.
  • 3 de enero = tres de enero.

...

Example:

Hoy es primero de enero.

Notice the use of the ordinal number for the day one. Does that mean that you can also use ordinal numbers for the days of the month or is this just an exception for the day one?

Would this be correct?

  • segundo de enero
  • tercero de enero
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French has this different construction too, and in French it's systematic: first, two, three, … Pourquoi utilise-t-on un ordinal uniquement pour le premier du mois? –  Gilles Mar 1 '12 at 0:36
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The use of ordinal numbers in dates is an anglicism. You can use ordinal or cardinal interchangeably.

There are countries that use only cardinal numbers (like Spain I think):

1 (uno) de enero.

In others, we use only the first day of the month as an ordinal:

1º (primero) de marzo

2 (dos) de marzo.

...

I haven't heard of any country that uses only ordinal numbers but it doesn't mean is wrong. It's also perfectly correct to use:

23º (vigésimo tercer día) de junio.

You can found more information on this blog post.

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In Spain only cardinal numbers are used, with the exception of "primero" which sounds very archaic nowadays and is rarely used (maybe in very formal settings). There is a famous song sung in "San Fermín" (the famous running of the bulls on July 7) which says: "uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril, cinco de mayo, seis de junio, siete de julio, ¡San Fermín!" (youtube.com/watch?v=Mxzr-YcgxKE) –  user1025 Oct 3 '12 at 13:00
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I've never seen or heard of ordinal numbers used for any dates other than the 1st of each month, and then only colloquially. Use cardinal numbers to be safe.

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