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I've recently been involved in a discussion over different interpretations of the following sentence (paraphrased):

Users may update their information every two weeks, at maximum.

The intended meaning is "no more frequently than once every two weeks", but some people seem to read it as exactly the opposite ("no less frequently"). A quick search on Google threw up examples of both interpretations (albeit usually sans comma), so now I'm somewhat stumped.

To my mind, "every two weeks" specifies the frequency at which something may occur, while "at maximum" indicates that this is the highest frequency, not he largest interval of occurrences.

Is there any one "correct" interpretation of this sentence, or is the wording simply too ambiguous?

regards Luke

  • I see only one explanation. You may update your information every two weeks and not more often than that – mplungjan Nov 4 '13 at 9:10
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This is how the sentence actually reads, "Users may update their information (once) every two weeks, at maximum." The clear indication is you cannot do it anymore than once in two weeks and have to wait at least two weeks before you update it.

  • Adding the implied "once" makes the meaning of the sentence much more clear. Thank you. :) – MadDogX Nov 5 '13 at 10:21
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we can make sure that most people (more than 90%) get the second picture out of the sentence. Grammatically when we use the words at maximum/minimum, we already talked about the quantity of an thing or any sort of occurrences. This sentence does not say anything about the number of times one could update his/her information. But it focuses on the maximum length of time the task needs to get done!

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