PHP Date() and Time() Function

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().



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


The PHP date() function is used to format a time and/or date.

The PHP Date() Function

The PHP date() function formats a timestamp to a more readable date and time.

A timestamp is a sequence of characters, denoting the date and/or time at which a certain event occurred.




Parameter Description
format: Required. Specifies the format of the timestamp
timestamp: Optional. Specifies a timestamp. Default is the current date and time

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


PHP Date() – Adding a Timestamp

The optional timestamp parameter in the date() function specifies a timestamp. If you do not specify a timestamp, the current date and time will be used.

The mktime() function returns the Unix timestamp for a date.

The Unix timestamp contains the number of seconds between the Unix Epoch (January 1 1970 00:00:00 GMT) and the time specified.

Syntax for mktime()


To go one day in the future we simply add one to the day argument of mktime():

$tomorrow = mktime(0,0,0,date("m"),date("d")+1,date("Y"));
echo "Tomorrow is ".date("Y/m/d", $tomorrow);

The output of the code above could be something like this:

Tomorrow is 2009/05/12


Hope you have good understanding on how to format date and time according to your requirement. For your reference a complete list of all the date and time functions is given in PHP Date & Time Functions.

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