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Getting to the Bottom of Between

It’s become a full-fledged epidemic. Perhaps the best evidence of the deterioration of English language usage in America is the misuse of the phrase describing the interval spanning two points.

Bothered and Bewildered by Between

The only wording that makes sense is between one point and another point. For example: The distance between New York and Miami is roughly 1,000 miles. Increasingly, one sees it written thusly: The distance between New York to Miami is roughly 1,000 miles.

That doesn’t make sense. It has to be between something and something else. And is a function word that connects items. However, the same meaning is expressed this way: The distance from New York to Miami is roughly 1,000 miles. From and to go together, and between and and go together – but not between and to.  

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The point is …

It’s such a simple, obvious concept. Yet it is increasingly perverted. The word between demands that the two points in question are joined by and. The word from demands that the two points in question are joined by to. As Merriam-Webster’s says in defining between, “from one to another of.”

“The crash shut down Military Trail in both directions between Golf Road to Piper’s Glen Boulevard,” a report in a South Florida newspaper declared. It was written by a young reporter who obviously is the product of a public educational system that has lost its way. Over and over, one comes across usage in newspaper language that is woefully deficient, owing to a lack of instruction in the basics of the English language.

No monopoly

The problem, however, is by no means limited to newspapers, which actually show a far better command of the language than do private and government entities whose primary activities involve business and services outside of daily

A promotion for a supplement reads: “People have been paying between $10,500 to $20,000 for a stem cell treatment that gives an instant ‘facelift’ effect.”

Instructions in a physical fitness manual advise students that “Maximum Fat-Burning Zone is 72-75% of Heart Rate Max for longer duration sessions between 30 to 60 minutes.” Whatever that means. And the fat-burning zone is 80-85% for sessions between 15 to 30 minutes.

No ifs, ands or betweens

Competent copy editors could correct these miscues and style inconsistencies – except that today’s copy editors are products of the same educational system as the writers are.

Grin and Bear It

For those who chafe at these lax linguistic practices, there is but one way to cope. It’s found in the title of a venerable comic strip: Grin and Bear It. 

“Love and marriage go together like horse and carriage,” the 1955 song says, and “you can’t have one without the other.” Likewise, between and and are as inseparable as music and band. It would be music to the ears, and a balm to the eyes, of a grammar grouch if they were never divorced.


#copyeditor #Englishlanguage #GrinandBearIt #newspaper

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