what's between between?
August 8, 2007 10:13 AM Subscribe
Is there a default understanding the word "between," if the speaker/writer doesn't say whether he's being inclusive or exclusive? For instance, if I say "Pick a number between 1 and 10," would you assume that 1 and 10 are okay picks or just 2 through 9? I suspect there isn't a RIGHT answer, but is there a common, colloquial understanding?
posted by grumblebee to writing & language (50 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I have Aspergers, and I get a feeling that this question would have an obvious answer to a "normal" person. But I'm so damn literal it has me stuck.
It came up today because, as NYCers know, the transit system is all screwed up. I'm on the 2 line, in Brooklyn, and I'd like to get to Atlantic Avenue (also on the 2 line). According to the MTA, " trains are suspended in both directions between the 34th Street-Penn Station and the Atlantic Avenue Station." So does that mean 2 trains are going TO Altantic and Penn but not between Atlantic and Penn? Or are the trains not even going to Atlantic and Penn?
I'm actually not all that worried about the train issue. That's just an example that came up today. My question is, is my confusion natural, or would a "normal" person just know what "between" means? And, if so, what DOES it mean?
Sometimes, when someone says "Pick a number between 1 and 10," I ask them if they mean INCLUDING 1 and 10. They tend to look at me strangely, as if I'd asked a really dumb, obvious question that I should know the answer to.