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Does it include doing it zero times?

For example:

"By signing here, you have agreed to catch the bus to work up to 10 ten times."

I was sure it did but I'm just reading something worded similarly (action changed) in a legal document so it's put a touch of doubt into my mind.

Update: As a few replies have indicated the context could make a difference, I thought it best to include the exact wording. It's an employment contract for a sales job that says:

"The employee agrees to call up to 20 new prospects per week and provide a log of these when requested."

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closed as off topic by FumbleFingers, Matt Эллен, MετάEd, tchrist, kiamlaluno Sep 15 '12 at 21:31

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That sentence doesn't really work. "Up to 10 times" mean 'no more than 10 times' but usually when you sign an agreement it is a promise that you will do something 'at least so many times'. –  Jim Jun 16 '12 at 5:01
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In normal use it would mean at least once. You would need a lawyer to tell you whether it could mean never in a legal document. –  Barrie England Jun 16 '12 at 5:44
    
Whether legally required or not, clarity in this case is probably beneficial to both parties, and I would advise that you eithery actually implement a minimum or forego the requirement and do the recruiting yourself. Just my 2 cents. –  shinyspoongod Jun 17 '12 at 4:59
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The sentence is incomprehensible. I dislike pointless, thoughtless ambiguity like this. Here are two real and meaningful examples of "up to 10 times":

"Video: Girl sneezes up to 10 times a minute" http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/nov/13/sneezing-girl-lauren-johnson-virginia

"Up to" in this sentence means "as many as" or "to the limit of" (Merriam-Webster's 3rd International Unabridged Dictionary of English) in this phrase, so the value of "up to" can be as low as zero and as high as 10.

"Caja Pays up to 10 Times More for Medicines" http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2012/june/12/costarica120061207.htm

In this sentence, the implication is that Costa Rica's Social Security system pays more than the regular price "for hurry-up deliveries of medicines" not on their storeroom shelves, so the price is never the regular price but is always higher.

This is an example of people not saying what they mean and forcing the person signing the agreement to infer the meaning. I would infer that I am required to catch the bus to work at least 10 times. Of course, the language doesn't require me to continue to ride the bus to work from wherever I catch it. It requires me to catch the bus but not to ride the bus to work. Say what you mean and mean what you say is one of my mottoes.

The meaning of "up to ten times" in that legal document may be the same or different depending on the context, which you haven't provided.

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Yes, a pet hate of mine also but often such documents are worded by those without the ability to see the ambiguity. Your Caja example, I would read that as medicines are substantially more expensive, up to ten times more, but only generally. Indeed some medicines may even be cheaper. –  jontyc Jun 16 '12 at 8:31
    
Ambiguity is truly irritating, especially with respect to marketing, lawyering, and errand lists. I have actually developed a near-phobia of the cereal isle thanks to ambiguity. Also, I'm pissed they made Boo Berry seasonal. –  shinyspoongod Jun 17 '12 at 4:56
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What you have said indicates that I have paid an amount of money (perhaps equivalent to eight single journeys) and that I can catch the bus no more than ten times. This limits the financial advantage of a carnet/season ticket.

It says nothing about a minimum number of times. In the trivial example of bus-catching, I expect the bus company would be perfectly happy to take my money and not carry me at all (so zero times is acceptable).

I suspect that in changing the action in the sentence, you have rendered the example less useful for explaining the concept. But in any case, ELU can't give legal advice.

Edit following the question edit:

"Up to" still means "a maximum of" — is that really what is meant?! Zero satisfies the literal meaning but wouldn't be very useful; and would 21 calls be unacceptable?

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Agree. BTW, not after legal advice but the English meaning of a sentence. At least English is less subjective. –  jontyc Jun 16 '12 at 8:24
    
I would thin that the "The employee agrees to..." was taken from the employers script which likely stated something like "You are expected to..." which makes more sense. Also, without the rest of the document, it looks strange. However, the previous clause may state, "The employer agrees to make at least 100 calls per week" in which case no more than 20 are to be new leads from that 100. –  Wolf5370 Jun 17 '12 at 18:27
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