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PHP Manual


(PHP 4, PHP 5)

dateFormat a local time/date


string date ( string $format [, int $timestamp = time() ] )

Returns a string formatted according to the given format string using the given integer timestamp or the current time if no timestamp is given. In other words, timestamp is optional and defaults to the value of time().



The format of the outputted date string. See the formatting options below. There are also several predefined date constants that may be used instead, so for example DATE_RSS contains the format string 'D, d M Y H:i:s'.

The following characters are recognized in the format parameter string
format character Description Example returned values
Day --- ---
d Day of the month, 2 digits with leading zeros 01 to 31
D A textual representation of a day, three letters Mon through Sun
j Day of the month without leading zeros 1 to 31
l (lowercase 'L') A full textual representation of the day of the week Sunday through Saturday
N ISO-8601 numeric representation of the day of the week (added in PHP 5.1.0) 1 (for Monday) through 7 (for Sunday)
S English ordinal suffix for the day of the month, 2 characters st, nd, rd or th. Works well with j
w Numeric representation of the day of the week 0 (for Sunday) through 6 (for Saturday)
z The day of the year (starting from 0) 0 through 365
Week --- ---
W ISO-8601 week number of year, weeks starting on Monday (added in PHP 4.1.0) Example: 42 (the 42nd week in the year)
Month --- ---
F A full textual representation of a month, such as January or March January through December
m Numeric representation of a month, with leading zeros 01 through 12
M A short textual representation of a month, three letters Jan through Dec
n Numeric representation of a month, without leading zeros 1 through 12
t Number of days in the given month 28 through 31
Year --- ---
L Whether it's a leap year 1 if it is a leap year, 0 otherwise.
o ISO-8601 year number. This has the same value as Y, except that if the ISO week number (W) belongs to the previous or next year, that year is used instead. (added in PHP 5.1.0) Examples: 1999 or 2003
Y A full numeric representation of a year, 4 digits Examples: 1999 or 2003
y A two digit representation of a year Examples: 99 or 03
Time --- ---
a Lowercase Ante meridiem and Post meridiem am or pm
A Uppercase Ante meridiem and Post meridiem AM or PM
B Swatch Internet time 000 through 999
g 12-hour format of an hour without leading zeros 1 through 12
G 24-hour format of an hour without leading zeros 0 through 23
h 12-hour format of an hour with leading zeros 01 through 12
H 24-hour format of an hour with leading zeros 00 through 23
i Minutes with leading zeros 00 to 59
s Seconds, with leading zeros 00 through 59
u Microseconds (added in PHP 5.2.2) Example: 654321
Timezone --- ---
e Timezone identifier (added in PHP 5.1.0) Examples: UTC, GMT, Atlantic/Azores
I (capital i) Whether or not the date is in daylight saving time 1 if Daylight Saving Time, 0 otherwise.
O Difference to Greenwich time (GMT) in hours Example: +0200
P Difference to Greenwich time (GMT) with colon between hours and minutes (added in PHP 5.1.3) Example: +02:00
T Timezone abbreviation Examples: EST, MDT ...
Z Timezone offset in seconds. The offset for timezones west of UTC is always negative, and for those east of UTC is always positive. -43200 through 50400
Full Date/Time --- ---
c ISO 8601 date (added in PHP 5) 2004-02-12T15:19:21+00:00
r » RFC 2822 formatted date Example: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 16:01:07 +0200
U Seconds since the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT) See also time()

Unrecognized characters in the format string will be printed as-is. The Z format will always return 0 when using gmdate().


Since this function only accepts integer timestamps the u format character is only useful when using the date_format() function with user based timestamps created with date_create().


The optional timestamp parameter is an integer Unix timestamp that defaults to the current local time if a timestamp is not given. In other words, it defaults to the value of time().

Return Values

Returns a formatted date string. If a non-numeric value is used for timestamp, FALSE is returned and an E_WARNING level error is emitted.


Every call to a date/time function will generate a E_NOTICE if the time zone is not valid, and/or a E_STRICT or E_WARNING message if using the system settings or the TZ environment variable. See also date_default_timezone_set()


Version Description
5.1.0 The valid range of a timestamp is typically from Fri, 13 Dec 1901 20:45:54 GMT to Tue, 19 Jan 2038 03:14:07 GMT. (These are the dates that correspond to the minimum and maximum values for a 32-bit signed integer). However, before PHP 5.1.0 this range was limited from 01-01-1970 to 19-01-2038 on some systems (e.g. Windows).

Now issues the E_STRICT and E_NOTICE time zone errors.

5.1.1 There are useful constants of standard date/time formats that can be used to specify the format parameter.


Example #1 date() examples

// set the default timezone to use. Available since PHP 5.1

// Prints something like: Monday
echo date("l");

// Prints something like: Monday 8th of August 2005 03:12:46 PM
echo date('l jS \of F Y h:i:s A');

// Prints: July 1, 2000 is on a Saturday
echo "July 1, 2000 is on a " date("l"mktime(000712000));

/* use the constants in the format parameter */
// prints something like: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:12:46 UTC
echo date(DATE_RFC822);

// prints something like: 2000-07-01T00:00:00+00:00
echo date(DATE_ATOMmktime(000712000));

You can prevent a recognized character in the format string from being expanded by escaping it with a preceding backslash. If the character with a backslash is already a special sequence, you may need to also escape the backslash.

Example #2 Escaping characters in date()

// prints something like: Wednesday the 15th
echo date('l \t\h\e jS');

It is possible to use date() and mktime() together to find dates in the future or the past.

Example #3 date() and mktime() example

mktime(000date("m")  , date("d")+1date("Y"));
$lastmonth mktime(000date("m")-1date("d"),   date("Y"));
$nextyear  mktime(000date("m"),   date("d"),   date("Y")+1);


This can be more reliable than simply adding or subtracting the number of seconds in a day or month to a timestamp because of daylight saving time.

Some examples of date() formatting. Note that you should escape any other characters, as any which currently have a special meaning will produce undesirable results, and other characters may be assigned meaning in future PHP versions. When escaping, be sure to use single quotes to prevent characters like \n from becoming newlines.

Example #4 date() Formatting

// Assuming today is March 10th, 2001, 5:16:18 pm, and that we are in the
// Mountain Standard Time (MST) Time Zone

$today date("F j, Y, g:i a");                 // March 10, 2001, 5:16 pm
$today date("m.d.y");                         // 03.10.01
$today date("j, n, Y");                       // 10, 3, 2001
$today date("Ymd");                           // 20010310
$today date('h-i-s, j-m-y, it is w Day');     // 05-16-18, 10-03-01, 1631 1618 6 Satpm01
$today date('\i\t \i\s \t\h\e jS \d\a\y.');   // it is the 10th day.
$today date("D M j G:i:s T Y");               // Sat Mar 10 17:16:18 MST 2001
$today date('H:m:s \m \i\s\ \m\o\n\t\h');     // 17:03:18 m is month
$today date("H:i:s");                         // 17:16:18

To format dates in other languages, you should use the setlocale() and strftime() functions instead of date().



To generate a timestamp from a string representation of the date, you may be able to use strtotime(). Additionally, some databases have functions to convert their date formats into timestamps (such as MySQL's » UNIX_TIMESTAMP function).


Timestamp of the start of the request is available in $_SERVER['REQUEST_TIME'] since PHP 5.1.

See Also

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