between inclusive

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 4 13:58:26 UTC 2013

If you asked me to pick a number between 1 and 10, I would find that
unclear -- are 1 and 10 possible picks?

If you asked me to pick a number from 1 to 10, I would know exactly what
you mean.

In other contexts, however, I would have to make a judgment based on
specificity. Your "somewhere between 40 and 50 dollars" is not the same as
"patients between the age of 40 and 50".


On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 5:13 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      between inclusive
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> The OED says about "between": Of the relation of a number, quantity,
> degree, or quality to two others above and below it, or differing from it
> in opposite ways; Intermediate to.
> One of the cites is:
> Between five and six miles from the city.
> If I emphasize the words "between," "five" and "six" just right, I think I
> can make it not include five or six, but generally speaking, I don't think
> that's the case.
> Wiktionary has the same issue:
> In the position or interval that separates (two things), or intermediate
> in quantity or degree.
> This works fine for the following sample sentence:
> 1. John stood between Amy and Mary.
> but less well for 2 and very poorly for 3:
> 2. Let's meet between two and three.
> 3. I want to buy one that costs somewhere between forty and fifty dollars.
> My concern is not merely petty pedantry: I just got called on this very
> issue by my Japanese client who thought my use of "between" was
> inappropriate as a translation of Japanese copy which is inclusive. I
> explained that while the OED agrees with her, I had to nevertheless
> disagree.
> Benjamin Barrett
> Seattle, WA
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