21st century or 21th century

threethree

Member
Chinese/Cantonese
I was told that both "21st century" and "21th century" were common expressions, but I don't think the latter is grammatically correct. Is it okay to use that in written or oral English?
 
  • GJones

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    "21th" shows up in some published books, but it's very rare (ngram). As JulianStuart points out, it stands for a word that ends in "first", so using "th" instead of "st" doesn't make sense.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I would say that 21th is an error. I have done this myself when I edit dates, say from '25th' and then forget to change the ending. The digit 1 in its ordinal form is always first, except the mathematical expressions lie (n + 1)th.
     
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