''Move back the date'' in American English

Xavier da Silva

Senior Member
Hello everyone,


Does the phrase "move back the date" sound natural/idiomatic in my example below (in American English)?


Ex.: They decided to move back the date of the wedding from May 1 to July 14.


My meaning intended: they decided to put off (postpone) the wedding from May 1 to July 14. (= make it happen at a later time).


Thank you in advance!
 
  • chessie1312

    Senior Member
    English - Scotland
    I would more likely say "they decided to push back the date of the wedding" rather than move back. But your meaning would still be understood :)
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It sounds natural and idiomatic. However, it's also confusing. "Move back the date" can mean both moving it forward in time (to make something later, as in your example) or moving it back in time (to make something earlier). For example, this article discusses moving the official date on which British Columbia was founded from 1858 to 1813, and this Wikipedia page mentions moving back the estimated date at which people first lived in North America to 50,000 years before the present.

    Another example of confusion: Fireworks were planned for Boston tomorrow evening (July 4th, U.S. Independence Day). However, Hurricane Arthur is expected to pass near Boston then. The rain will make fireworks impossible (and would make watching them unpleasant, if not dangerous). The fireworks will be tonight, July 3rd, instead. Several newspapers and TV reporters said that they were moved back one day.

    You can avoid confusion by giving both dates, as you did in your example, but I would avoid this phrase if both dates are not given or if its meaning is not obvious in some other way. You can also move out the wedding from May to July.
     
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