PHP Date and Time

Dates are so much part of everyday life that it becomes easy to work with them without thinking. PHP also provides powerful tools for date arithmetic that make manipulating dates easy.

Getting the Time Stamp with time():

PHP’s time() function gives you all the information that you need about the current date and time. It requires no arguments but returns an integer.

The integer returned by time() represents the number of seconds elapsed since midnight GMT on January 1, 1970. This moment is known as the UNIX epoch, and the number of seconds that have elapsed since then is referred to as a time stamp.

print time();

It will produce following result:


This is something difficult to understand. But PHP offers excellent tools to convert a time stamp into a form that humans are comfortable with.

Converting a Time Stamp with getdate():

The function getdate() optionally accepts a time stamp and returns an associative array containing information about the date. If you omit the time stamp, it works with the current time stamp as returned by time().

Following table lists the elements contained in the array returned by getdate().

Key Description Example
seconds Seconds past the minutes (0-59) 20
minutes Minutes past the hour (0 – 59) 29
hours Hours of the day (0 – 23) 22
mday Day of the month (1 – 31) 11
wday Day of the week (0 – 6) 4
mon Month of the year (1 – 12) 7
year Year (4 digits) 1997
yday Day of year ( 0 – 365 ) 19
weekday Day of the week Thursday
month Month of the year January
0 Timestamp 948370048

Now you have complete control over date and time. You can format this date and time in whatever format you wan.


Try out following example

$date_array = getdate();
foreach ( $date_array as $key => $val )
   print "$key = $val<br />";
$formated_date  = "Today's date: ";
$formated_date .= $date_array[mday] . "/";
$formated_date .= $date_array[mon] . "/";
$formated_date .= $date_array[year];

print $formated_date;

It will produce following result:

seconds = 27
minutes = 25
hours = 11
mday = 12
wday = 6
mon = 5
year = 2007
yday = 131
weekday = Saturday
month = May
0 = 1178994327
Today's date: 12/5/2007

Converting a Time Stamp with date():

The date() function returns a formatted string representing a date. You can exercise an enormous amount of control over the format that date() returns with a string argument that you must pass to it.


The date() optionally accepts a time stamp if ommited then current date and time will be used. Any other data you include in the format string passed to date() will be included in the return value.

Following table lists the codes that a format string can contain:

Format Description Example
a ‘am’ or ‘pm’ lowercase pm
A ‘AM’ or ‘PM’ uppercase PM
d Day of month, a number with leading zeroes 20
D Day of week (three letters) Thu
F Month name January
h Hour (12-hour format – leading zeroes) 12
H Hour (24-hour format – leading zeroes) 22
g Hour (12-hour format – no leading zeroes) 12
G Hour (24-hour format – no leading zeroes) 22
i Minutes ( 0 – 59 ) 23
j Day of the month (no leading zeroes 20
l (Lower ‘L’) Day of the week Thursday
L Leap year (‘1’ for yes, ‘0’ for no) 1
m Month of year (number – leading zeroes) 1
M Month of year (three letters) Jan
r The RFC 2822 formatted date Thu, 21 Dec 2000 16:01:07 +0200
n Month of year (number – no leading zeroes) 2
s Seconds of hour 20
U Time stamp 948372444
y Year (two digits) 06
Y Year (four digits) 2006
z Day of year (0 – 365) 206
Z Offset in seconds from GMT +5


Try out following example

print date("m/d/y G.i:s<br>", time());
print "Today is ";
print date("j of F Y, \a\\t g.i a", time());

It will produce following result:

01/20/00 13.27:55
Today is 20 of January 2000, at 1.27 pm

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