Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I purchased some fungicide. The instructions on the back of the bottle say "Apply at 4–6 weekly intervals."

Does that mean it should be applied 4–6 times a week? Or every 4–6 weeks?

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It means that the fungicide should be applied every 4–6 weeks, not 4–6 times per week. If it meant 4–6 times a week, it would say "Apply 4–6 times per week". The "interval" between applications is 4, 5, or 6 weeks.

share|improve this answer
    
yeah, that's what I thought too. My friend confused me by saying otherwise. Thanks! –  sarahTheButterFly Dec 22 '12 at 11:13
    
'4-6 weekly' would also mean 'monthly' while '4-6 times weekly' would be 'daily'. The whole areas's difficult: english.stackexchange.com/q/35404/8019. –  TimLymington Dec 22 '12 at 12:38
    
That's undoubtedly what it means, but you have to puzzle it out. What it means to say (putting on my White Knight hat or helmet) is "at 4- to 6-week intervals". –  StoneyB Dec 22 '12 at 15:03
    
@StoneyB: Yes, and this is because almost no one puts a premium on saying what they mean or meaning what they say. Most native speakers and writers of English seem to believe that regardless of what they say, everyone else will eventually figure out what they mean. Clarity is poo-pooed as a frill. No one wants to spend time writing or speaking clearly because it's too much work, so shit English is de rigueur. This is one of the downsides of the politics of descriptivism, which is just another way of saying "Ain't diversity grand? It means everybody can be right and equal". Horse manure. –  user21497 Dec 22 '12 at 16:01
    
@BillFranke You blame descriptivism; I blame the educational Establishment, who don't take the trouble to understand what either the linguists or the philologists actually say, which is almost always the same thing. –  StoneyB Dec 22 '12 at 16:11
show 1 more comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.