Staying on Target with Ranges

Writing often brings us to spots in sentences where we need to convey the extent of something, such as locations, distances, or durations. Most of these constructions will include between or from. The question then becomes how to be grammatically correct in connecting the range being specified.

For example, we wish to communicate where to find a bakery, but we don’t know the exact address. We therefore provide a general location using known directional points. Do we say The bakery is between 43rd to 45th Street or The bakery is between 43rd and 45th Streets?

Occasionally we might hear a writer or a speaker use phrasing such as “between…to” and “from…and,” e.g., The shipment should arrive between Monday to Friday, The scope of the roadwork will extend from Adams Avenue and Coolidge Court. Neither would be correct.

Grammatical phrasing of ranges including “between” or “from” would be “between…and” and “from…to,” and the phrases are not interchangeable: The shipment should arrive between Monday and Friday, The scope of the roadwork will extend from Adams Avenue to Coolidge Court.

More Examples
City Hall intends to install between twenty and thirty additional streetlights.
From 1966 to 1974, rock music experienced a surge in creative writing and original recording techniques.
I would describe her reaction to the news as somewhere between humor and disbelief.
The Corrigan Corridor runs from the west side of the post office to the east side of the museum two blocks down.

An en dash also may be used alone to express inclusive ranges.
Correct: The seminar will last 6–8 hours.
Incorrect: The seminar will last from 6–8 hours.
Incorrect: The seminar will last between 6–8 hours.

Another common question in writing ranges concerns whether nouns included within them should be singular or plural. For example, would we write Adolescents can hit big growth spurts between the ninth and twelfth grade or grades? How about The parade will proceed from Baker to Harrison Street or Streets?

To address this, we consulted Theodore M. Bernstein’s The Careful Writer. Applying his reasoning, we would make a single noun following between plural and keep a single noun following from singular.

Examples
Adolescents can hit big growth spurts between the ninth and twelfth grades.
The parade will proceed from Baker to Harrison Street.

One other item we may run into is the use of in between. How does that phrase differ from the word between alone?

To define this, we can review and interpret modern definitions. Between alone can be a preposition (between me and you) or an adverb (two end tables with a sofa between). Typically considered idiomatic, in between can be a preposition (the envelope in between the books), an adjective phrase (I prefer in-between weather to extreme hot or cold), or an adverb phrase (They started arguing, and I was trapped in between).

In many cases, the careful writer will notice that including in is unnecessary: Sit between Bob and me is better English than Sit in between Bob and me. If we are ever in doubt about in, we’ll often be correct in excluding it. In between will be useful mainly when connoting physical space or positions without a prepositional object, as in I was trapped in between (versus I was trapped between two people).

If we consider these thoughts and guidelines, we’ll find that our aim in writing a range will always be near the bulls-eye.

 

Pop Quiz

Using what you’ve learned in this article, choose the sentence that most accurately expresses a range.

1.
a) The job fair will be open between 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
b) The job fair will be open between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

2.
a) The doctor is on twenty-four-hour call from Tuesday to Friday this week.
b) The doctor is on twenty-four-hour call from Tuesday and Friday this week.

3.
a) The drive to Green Bay will take 8–10 hours.
b) The drive to Green Bay will take from 8–10 hours.

4.
a) Please set the flowers between the lamp and the photo frame.
b) Please set the flowers in between the lamp and the photo frame.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1.
a) The job fair will be open between 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
b) The job fair will be open between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

2.
a) The doctor is on twenty-four-hour call from Tuesday to Friday this week.
b) The doctor is on twenty-four-hour call from Tuesday and Friday this week.

3.
a) The drive to Green Bay will take 8–10 hours.
b) The drive to Green Bay will take from 8–10 hours.

4.
a) Please set the flowers between the lamp and the photo frame.
b) Please set the flowers in between the lamp and the photo frame.

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