In many texts, years are written in Roman or Arabic numerals like MMIV for 2004.

Should I read them cardinally or ordinally? Is there any evidence for the way to read?

1 Answer 1


The answer is ordinally.

Evenit anno Domini millesimo nongentesimo duodenonagesimo.
Evenit anno Domini MCMLXXXVIII.
Evenit anno Domini 1988.
It happened in nineteen eighty-eight.


It happened in the one thousand nine hundred and eighty-eighth year of the Lord.

You can leave Domini out, of course – nobody is probably going to be confused whether you mean before or after Christ – but I would generally not leave anno out like you would in English.

If you do mean before Christ, you say ante Christum natum (e.g. consul fuit anno sexagesimo tertio a. Chr. n.). Post Christum natum = p. Chr. n. also exists. (In case you are wondering, this is a so-called dominant participle construction; it seems to say “before/after the born Christ,” but the actual meaning is, of course, “before/after the birth of Christ.”)

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