If You Are Going To Use AD Wrong, Just Use CE

Please, for the love of God

Grant Piper


Johannes von Gmunden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As someone who writes extensively about history, I get asked this question a lot. Why do you use CE instead of AD? Isn’t AD more traditional? CE is “politically correct” or “revisionist.”

To be fair, CE (which stands for Common Era) is new. It removes the religious undertones of AD (Anno domini), which means in the year of the Lord (Jesus Christ).

I use CE because, one, it is being used more and more in academic circles. But mostly, it is because everyone, including you, uses AD wrong, and it is horrifically irritating.

Do you know what everyone does wrong? AD is supposed to go before the year. Yet, everyone puts it after the year.

The year is AD 2022.

The year is not 2022 AD.

The confusion arises because BC (Before Christ) goes after the year.

The year 2022 BC is correct.

But here’s the kicker. CE is designed to be put after the year. That means all of you who erroneously continue to put AD after the year can rest assured you are in the right if you put CE after the year.

The current year is 2022 CE or AD 2022.

The Biggest Irony Of All

Not only do I get asked frequently about the CE / AD split, but I sometimes also get beaten about the brow about using CE. Some people say that AD is more traditional. AD is more correct. CE is how the revisionists want to change history. Yadda yadda yadda.

What I find most ironic is that the same people who want to preach to me about tradition use AD entirely wrong. Traditionally, AD goes before the year. AD is short for a long phrase in Latin. Anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Translation: In the year of the [or our] Lord Jesus Christ. So when you go to state the date, the correct phrasing should be In the year of the Lord Jesus Christ two thousand and twenty-two. That’s traditional.

But no one is going around writing that phrase or uttering that phrase. Most people won’t even have the courtesy of saying AD 2022. Everyone and their mother uses 2022 AD. And you know what? I’m sick of it.

The people moaning about tradition don’t even know the traditional way to use the phrase they are moaning about.

So I use CE. Because CE goes after the year, and that seems to be the only thing you people understand.

If you have ever put AD behind the year instead of in front of it, please do us all a favor and just switch to CE. At least then, you will be correct.



Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.