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What is the difference between BC and BCE?

"BC" and "BCE" are both terms used to denote a time period before the year 1 CE (Common Era). The difference between the two is largely one of language and convention.


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  Courtney Emerson  —  Grammar Tips
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"BC" stands for "Before Christ," and is a convention that has been in use for centuries. It is based on the traditional belief that the year of Christ's birth, which was believed to be the start of the modern Western calendar, was the dividing point between past and present. For example, the year 500 BC refers to the time 500 years before the birth of Christ.

However, "BC" has also been criticized for its religious connotations and its potential to be exclusionary. "BCE," on the other hand, stands for "Before Common Era" and is an alternative that seeks to provide a more neutral, inclusive, and secular designation for dates before the year 1 CE. For example, the year 500 BCE refers to the same period as 500 BC, but without reference to Christ or Christianity.

Some people prefer to use "BCE" as a more modern and inclusive term that reflects the diversity of cultures and beliefs in our global society. Others prefer to use "BC" as it is a well-established and widely recognized convention in Western cultures. Ultimately, the choice between "BC" and "BCE" is a matter of personal preference and cultural tradition.

Here are some examples to illustrate the difference between "BC" and "BCE":


In these examples, both "BC" and "BCE" are used to refer to dates before the year 1 CE, but the choice of which to use is largely a matter of personal preference and convention.

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