Sometimes more than one form of communicating is correct. Other times, one form is wrong and must be avoided.
When asking for dates, people use either “Which Date” or “What Date”. Are both correct? Should they choose one form and ignore the other?
Let’s look into it, and find out.
The truth is both “Which Date” and “What Date” are acceptable forms you can use in your speech. They’re mostly interchangeable because they share the same meaning, which is related to asking a question about a date that needs to be selected, or informed.
Let’s start by looking at some examples:
- Which of these dates works best for you?
- What date works best for you?
- Anna and Joe are taking a long time to pick which date they’ll get married.
- I can’t remember what date I scheduled the appointment.
“Which Date” and “What Date” function basically the same way, whenever you’re asking about a date or making a comment. It means you don’t need to overthink your choice, when debating which one to pick.
“Which” is a pronoun or a determiner, used to ask for specifying information about one person (or item) or a group of them. To say “Which Date” indicates you’re asking or making a statement about a specific date, when a certain event is supposed to take place.
Take a look as some examples of “Which Date” in use in a sentence:
- Between Saturday and Wednesday, which date works best for you?
- Which date would you like to stop by for an appointment?
- Which date did this happen on?
- Ask Joanne which date is more convenient. I can make it on the 22nd or the 23rd.
- I’m free on Tuesday and on Friday. Which date works for you?
“Which Date” works particularly fine when you need to indicate a person must choose from a set of pre-selected dates, because it helps make that message very clear.
Keep in mind you don’t have to use “Which Date” exclusively for those instances, and you don’t need to overthink it. This is just a tip, in case one day you need to be more assertive and want to use a language trick in your favor.
“What Date” means the same as “Which Date”. Both indicate your interest in asking a question or making a statement about a certain date. “What Date” works particularly well in open questions, where no set of dates have yet been pre-selected.
Let’s see “What Date” in use, in some sentences:
- What date are you free next?
- Kenny asked me what date I was available so we could grab lunch.
- By what date do you need the finished piece?
- What date are you leaving for Canada?
- What date Jenny will be back home is still to be determined.
In practically all sentences, you could interchange “What Date” and “Which Date”, without harming the meaning and the message you’re trying to send.
Keep in mind, though, in case you need to be specific, that “What Date” works best for open questions and “Which Date” works best when you have a pre-selected set of dates from which to choose from.
When two forms are so similar in use, it can be interesting to look into them and find out which is more frequently used. Do you think people say more “Which Date” or “What Date”?
The graph from Google Ngram Viewer below has the answer for our question.
Interestingly, “Which Date” has been used more frequently than “What Date” over the years. However, it also called our attention in the graph, that the two words have declined in use, and have been for a very long time.
Would you have an idea of why this would be the case?
“Which Date” and “What Date” are very similar in meaning and how they should be used. It’s common sense that “Which Date” works better in questions about a set of dates, and “What Date” works better with open questions. However, you can interchange them in most cases without losing meaning.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.