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Which is the correct form on an invoice, or a general date range in a form, and why?

Monkey dolls                        12 GBP
From 2012-01-03 to 2013-01-02

Monkey dolls                        12 GBP
Since 2012-01-03 until 2013-01-02

Form format (dates can be modified with a datepicker):

Since: 2012-01-03
until: 2013-01-02

Since+until makes sense and sounds ok to me, yet I know I can be very wrong, at least when it comes to the common usage in the UK and/or US, since English is not my first language.

I am interested in both British and American English.

Until now I've been using since+until, yet some articles explicitly say they may not ever be used together, while some people and some other articles get deep into grammar rules which I can't really apply on the context of invoices and forms.

Here's a recent article saying since and until can never be used together (last paragraph): http://englishmatsuri.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/for-since-until-from-and-to/

Edit: The date range can start in the past or in the future, and can end in the past or in the future. However, at the time of issuing an invoice or rendering a form, you cannot know when the document will be read or how the form will be filled.

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What makes "yet I know I can be very wrong"? –  Kris Apr 11 '13 at 6:36
    
Since has its own raison d'être regardless of until occurring later. Check out the difference in meanings and usage between since and from. –  Kris Apr 11 '13 at 6:38
    
@Kris The way I interpret English is thwarted by the way I interpret other languages and also by American English only experience (mostly movies, games and internet culture). –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 11 '13 at 7:53
    
You will benefit from the sister Q&A site ELL ell.stackexchange.com –  Kris Apr 11 '13 at 8:08
    
Are you suggesting the question should be moved there? It seems to fit the FAQ of this one just fine. –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 11 '13 at 8:17

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+100

The US Treasury Department invoicing guidelines use "Service date from" and "Service date to."

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Look at the definitions of "since" and "until":

Since - from a definite past time until now

Until - before

Since the definition of "since" implicitly includes a sub-clause of "until", it doesn't make sense to combine it with a separate "until". So what you have is:

Dolls sold since January 2012 -- Valid

Dolls sold from January 2012 to February 2012 -- Valid

Dolls sold since January 2012 until February 2012 -- Incorrect

The combination of "from" and "until" is also valid in some circumstances, like:

He stayed from dusk until dawn.

But for some reason using it in a date range does not sound right to my ears. It may be idiomatic rather than any grammatical reason. I'm not really sure though. Perhaps someone else can comment.

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It has to be from...to.

Used as a preposition, "since" indicates that an action/event that started some time in the past is continuing until now. Given that you have to indicate, on your invoice, that a certain thing started on a certain date and ended on a certain date (and therefore is no longer continuing), using "since" would be incorrect.

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One more thing. Things are a little more complicated: The date range can start in the past or in the future, and can end in the past or in the future. However, at the time of issuing an invoice or rendering a form, you cannot know when the document will be read or how the form will be filled. –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 11 '13 at 8:01
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It does answer the question AFAIC. Since implies that the event in question is still going on: "I have been blonde since 1995". From is the correct term: "I was blonde from 1995 to 2006". Since also can only be applied to the past, whereas from can refer to the past, present, or future: "I will be blonde from now on!" –  ElendilTheTall Apr 11 '13 at 8:09
    
You have completely missed the words "continuing until now". If the action has a definite starting point and a definite ending point, you are required to use the from...to combination. –  Shailja Apr 11 '13 at 8:13
1  
From January until next year :) –  Shailja Apr 11 '13 at 8:45
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The definition of 'since' in this context is 'from that time till now'. In other words, you can't apply another timeframe to 'since'. –  ElendilTheTall Apr 11 '13 at 9:47

When we're talking about a span of time, "from" and "to" are a linked pair. "From" designates the beginning of the time span, and "to" designates the end. ("Until" can also be used here, in place of "to.")

"Since" also refers to a span of time, beginning at some point in the past and ending at the present moment; it basically means "from then to now." "Since" is therefore a complete concept, and does not require "until" to finish the thought. If you add "until now," it becomes redundant, because "since" includes "until now." In other words, if you say "since then until now," you are saying "from then to now until now," and if you say "since then until any time other than NOW," you are contradicting yourself, because then you are saying "from then to now until some time other than now." Therefore, "since" and "until" never go together.

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You have demonstrated what you have set out to demonstrate, the redundancy of adding "until now" (which is correct). However, there is no until now on invoices or forms. There is a definite date range. Your last sentence (the conclusion) should then apply only to that particular example? –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 19 '13 at 20:53
    
My last sentence is an absolute. I see no exceptions. There are no circumstances or contexts in which "since" and "until" should be used together. –  John M. Landsberg Apr 20 '13 at 8:05

Neither are appropriate on an invoice.

An invoice is for a fixed period of time and will reference a start date and an end date for when a particular service was rendered or provided.

That being said, an invoice will typically read:

For the service period beginning January 1, 2013 through February 1, 2013

or potentially using an uncommon, but valid spelling of through

For the service period beginning January 1, 2013 thru February 1, 2013

Note that this spelling of thru is rarely acceptable, but is actually fairly common on invoices.

Of course, you can also use the word "to" as in your example.

For services rendered from January 1, 2013 to February 1, 2013

Until may be used if the service will be terminated on a specific date and the date is in the future.

 This invoice is for service that will be provided until January 1, 2014

Since is inappropriate because it does not infer that the invoiced time period will ever be completed.

 This invoice is for service since January 1, 2012

If I get that on an invoice, I might not pay it because it tells me there are no ongoing costs as long as the invoice remains open.

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I like "since" and "until". Unambiguous, and purpose-built words for talking about time (as opposed to "from" and "to"). Stick with them.

However...the most important thing for you, it seems, is the form query, which needs to be as unambiguous as possible for the user. So, the grammatical injunctions about pairing "since" with "until" are less important than the clarity of the endpoints. You also want the entrant to know specifically whether the period of time is endpoint-inclusive or -exclusive. Which makes me think that "after" and "before" (endpoint-exclusive) might be even better. In fact: "After 23:59 on:" and "Before 00:01 on:" might be the best.

The Facebook API developers faced this issue...they went with "since" and "until": "...when querying the following tables and connections, use time-based paging...to ensure you are getting back as many results as possible...use the 'since' and 'until' parameters."

Think about it mathematically:

Take an infinite time span populated by discrete events. The preposition "since" chops off the timeline from -∞ to the beginning of the period of interest, then "until" chops off the timeline from the end of the period of interest to +∞. You are left with a time segment representing the period of interest. These two prepositions have a high semantic symmetry; using them together is appropriate in the context you describe.

Out of context, the word "since" does not imply "until now". It comes from an Old English word meaning "thereupon". Non-contextualized, it implies "until forever". In any case, to blindly limit our usage to what Old English (or Latin) grammar may have originally required is to blindly limit the evolution of English! Language changes as we require. The need for precision in this case convinced the FB team to pair "since" and "until".

And when are THEY ever wrong?

See, for example, the section on "Time-Based Pagination" at https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/api/pagination/

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I think the mixing before and a time with that date will actually make things a little less clear as oposed to less ambiguous. The end date is more like "to and including 2013-01-01" (your example excludes the end date?), at least for the invoice. –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 18 '13 at 22:53
    
Sorry, @commonhare, "since" and "until" just aren't used together. However, to keep opinions from unduly influencing our site, you should probably be able to provide some examples of linked "since"/"until" usage. –  Kristina Lopez Apr 19 '13 at 18:26
    
Could you reference the facebook usage? A link or screenshot? –  Tiberiu-Ionuț Stan Apr 27 '13 at 21:46

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