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Kiswahili Grammar Notes: Dates: Tarehe Gani?

Dates: Tarehe Gani?

Their names are based on the Moslem week, beginning after Friday, the holy day:

Jumamosi the first day Saturday
Jumapili the second day Sunday
Jumatatu the third day Monday
Jumanne the fourth day Tuesday
Jumatano the fifth day Wednesday
Alhamisi the fifth day Thursday
Ijumaa the day of assembly Friday
Note these points:

Jumamosi: mosi is an old form of the number one, rarely heard except in Jumamosi and telling dates (paragraph 38, below).

Alhamisi: the fifth day, which makes two fifth days. This name comes from an old reckoning that takes Sunday as the first day, thus Thursday is the fifth. Hamsa is an Arabic loan word for five.

Ijumaa: the day of assembly, or Lord's day; the Islamic holy day. Sometimes Christians will refer to Sunday as Siku ya Bwana, the Lord's Day.

It is more common to mention the months of the year with the ordinal numbers than with their English names:
Mwezi wa kwanza Januari
Mwezi wa pili Februari
Mwezi wa tatu Machi
Mwezi wa nne Aprili
Mwezi wa tano Mei
Mwezi wa sita Juni
Mwezi wa saba Julai
Mwezi wa nane Agosti
Mwezi wa tisa Septemba
Mwezi wa kumi Oktoba
Mwezi wa kumi na moja Novemba
Mwezi wa kumi na mbili Desemba


When telling dates, the word tarehe, date, is always included:
Tarehe gani? What date is it?
The answer is: Tarehe kumi na mbili mwezi wa pili. February 12th.

Note that the ordinal numbers are not used:
August first: tarehe moja mwezi wa nane or tarehe mosi mwezi wa nane
2nd of February: tarehe mbili mwezi wa pili

There is no short way of telling the year:

1984 is Mwaka elfu moja mia tisa themanini na nne
or also Mwaka elfu moja tisa mia themanini na nne

It is sometimes possible (when the century is not in doubt) simply to say: mwaka themanini na nne /content/dates

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