Usage and Grammar

Q. Is it acceptable to use the “from . . . to” and the “between . . . and” constructions interchangeably when referring to inclusive numbers and years? For example, “from 1900 to 1910” and “between 1900 and 1910” mean two different things to me. The first one is inclusive of the years 1900 and 1910, while the second one is not inclusive, literally meaning “from 1901 to 1909.” Others disagree with me on this.

A. Both constructions are ambiguous. The fact that people don’t agree on their meaning attests to this. For that reason, use whichever you like, and when it’s important to include or exclude a particular year (it isn’t always), make it clear by using phrases like “beginning in,” “ending in,” and “up to and including.”