The 12 Months of the Year: Exploring the Calendar in English

Months in English - Learn English

Learning months of the year in English

The 12 months of the year are an essential part of daily life, providing a structure for planning, events, and celebrations. In this article, we will explore the origins, meanings, and interesting facts about each month, as well as how they are used in the English language. At the end of the article, check how well you learned the material.

What are the months of the year in English?

1. January – A Fresh Start

  • The name “January” comes from the Roman god Janus, who is often depicted with two faces—one looking backward and one forward. This duality reflects the transition from the old year to the new, making January a month of fresh beginnings and resolutions.

2. February – From Februa to Love

  • Derived from the Latin word “Februa,” meaning purification, February was originally a month of cleansing rituals. Over time, it became associated with love and romance due to the celebration of Valentine’s Day, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.

3. March – Spring’s Awakening

  • Named after Mars, the Roman god of war, March was traditionally the first month of the Roman calendar. As winter recedes, March marks the beginning of spring—a time of renewal and growth.

4. April – A Time of Opening

  • April’s name is of uncertain origin, but it might be related to the Latin word “aperire,” meaning ‘to open.’ This aligns with the blooming of flowers and the opening of buds, symbolizing the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere.

5. May – A Tribute to Maia

  • May is named after Maia, a Roman goddess of growth and fertility. In many cultures, May Day celebrations honor the arrival of warmer weather and the blossoming of nature.

6. June – A Celebration of Juno

  • June is named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Traditionally a popular month for weddings, June’s name is synonymous with union and partnership.

7. July – Julius Caesar’s Legacy

  • Named in honor of Julius Caesar, July was previously known as Quintilis (the fifth month in Latin). This change was made after Caesar’s death to commemorate his achievements and influence.

8. August – Augustus’ Triumph

  • Originally named Sextilis, August was renamed in honor of Emperor Augustus. This alteration ensured that his month equaled the length of July, named after his predecessor Julius Caesar.

9. September – From Seven to Nine

  • The name September is derived from the Latin word “septem,” meaning seven. Originally the seventh month in the Roman calendar, it was later moved to the ninth position.

10. October – The Eighth Month

  • Similarly, October’s name reflects its original position as the eighth month in the Roman calendar. The name is derived from the Latin word “octo,” meaning eight.

11. November – A Nod to the Ninth

  • November, named after the Latin word “novem,” meaning nine, originally held the ninth position in the Roman calendar.

12. December – The Tenth Month

  • Despite its name, December was the tenth month in the Roman calendar. Its name is derived from the Latin word “decem,” meaning ten.

The Meaning of a Leap Year in English

A leap year is a concept within the Gregorian calendar, which is used to keep our calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year and the changing seasons. In English, when we refer to a leap year, we are talking about a year that includes one additional day, having a total of 366 days instead of the usual 365.

This extra day is added to the month of February, which normally has 28 days, but during a leap year, it has 29 days. The inclusion of this additional day, February 29th, is known as Leap Day.

The necessity for a leap year arises because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. Instead, it takes approximately 365.2422 days for the Earth to complete one orbit around the sun. Without the correction that leap years provide, our calendar would gradually drift and eventually become out of sync with the seasons.

Leap years occur every four years, with some exceptions. According to the rules of the Gregorian calendar, a year is a leap year if it is divisible by 4. However, if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is not a leap year unless it is also divisible by 400. This means that the year 2000 was a leap year, while the year 1900 was not.

The concept of a leap year has been known since ancient times, and its implementation in the modern Gregorian calendar ensures that seasonal events and holidays remain roughly in the same period throughout the years.

Easy Ways to Remember the Months of the Year in English

Memorizing the months of the year in English can be challenging for learners. However, there are several simple methods and mnemonics that can assist with this task:

  1. Rhyme and Song Method:

    • Many people find that setting information to a tune or rhyme makes it easier to remember. The “Months of the Year Song” is a popular tool used by teachers and students. It sings the months to a catchy melody, which can be found in various adaptations online.
  2. First Letter Mnemonics:

    • Create a sentence where the first letter of each word corresponds to the first letter of a month. For example: “Just For Memory Aids, Jason Jogs Many Miles Jogging Makes Jason Nap Daily.” This stands for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.
  3. Chunking Method:

    • Break the list into smaller parts, or chunks. Typically, this is done by season (in the Northern Hemisphere):
      • Winter: December, January, February
      • Spring: March, April, May
      • Summer: June, July, August
      • Autumn: September, October, November
  4. Numerical Associations:

    • Connect each month to its numerical position in the calendar year. For example, September can be remembered by the prefix “sept,” which is similar to “seven,” despite being the ninth month. Creating a quiz or flashcards with questions like “Which month is 7th?” can reinforce this association.
  5. Visual Learning:

    • Use a visual calendar that includes pictures representing holidays or seasons specific to each month. This visual association can help solidify the names of the months in your memory.
  6. Physical Calendar Interaction:

    • Physically flipping through a calendar and pointing to or touching each month while saying its name out loud can help reinforce memory through active interaction.
  7. Repetition and Writing Practice:

    • Repetition is key to memorization. Regularly reciting the months in order and writing them down repeatedly will help embed them into long-term memory.

By utilizing these techniques, anyone can improve their recall of the months of the year in English, turning a rote learning endeavor into a series of engaging exercises.

Exercise with Months

Choose the correct answer to the question:

What month comes after November?

What month comes before August?

What month comes after May?

What month comes before February?

What month comes after March?

What month comes before September?

What month comes after October?

What month comes before June?

What month comes after December?

What month comes before July?

The 12 months of the year not only provide a framework for organizing time but also carry rich cultural and historical significance. Understanding the origins and meanings of each month enhances our appreciation for the cyclic nature of time and the diversity of human experiences around the world. Incorporating the names of the months into English language learning provides an opportunity to explore linguistic and cultural connections, enriching the journey of mastering the English language.

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