The study was carried out up to visit 11 under the name of X1, whereas all later visits were carried out under a different name, X2.

In the above sentence, does V11 belong to X1 or X2? I want the sentence to mean that V11 was included in X1, how should the sentence be then?

  • 3
    Highly related: Does "up to <date>" include the end date? (I think this question is more general and should be answered, and that question should be a duplicate of this one) – Andrew Leach Jun 19 '14 at 9:27
  • In research papers, at least those in fields with which I'm familiar, "up to" would not be used in this way because of the potential ambiguity involved. The way I read it, it excludes visit 11. Perhaps: "The study was carried out under the name of X1 from visits 1 through 11, after which the study was carried out under... (etc.)" – anongoodnurse Jun 19 '14 at 10:09
  • The proposed duplicate also asks about date ranges (and that part of the question isn't answered particularly well). Thus, I disagree that it is merely a more specific version of this question. – Marthaª Jun 19 '14 at 13:41
  • the joy of finding your question already asked and answered - thanks you people and stackexchange! – n611x007 Apr 13 '15 at 9:54

People do use the term in both ways (rightly or wrongly), so it is best to examine the context, to help you decide what is meant.

However, without additional information from the context, I would say that the correct meaning is up to but not including.

To express inclusion of the upper boundary, you can use up through instead of up to.

(And I agree with others that there are less ambiguous ways to express ranges and inclusion/exclusion of their limits.)

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    Can you give examples of where it would tend to be exclusive? All the ones I can think of "spend up to $100" or "may apply up to two coats of paint" are inclusive. – Jaydles Jun 20 '14 at 1:01
  • @Jaydles: Nope; sorry. And yes, it is ambiguous (which up through is not), which is why anyone who wants to be clear (e.g. math, science, finance) makes explicit whether a given limit is included in a given range. Anyone who uses up to without qualification is courting different interpretations. Without further context I would tend to think that a TO limit is not included. Not including an upper limit is often the case in software for example. But again, the doc then usually makes explicit that the character (or whatever) at position TO is not included (or is included, if it is). – Drew Jun 20 '14 at 2:05
  • @Jaydles the Bible (King James Version) 2 Corinthians 12: 2 such an one caught up to the third heaven.who was nobody but Paul the apostle himself, no way he had been in the third heaven! – doctorate Dec 18 '14 at 11:57
  • how do I express succintly to disclude the end boundary? – n611x007 Apr 13 '15 at 9:56
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    @naxa: Yes, but excluding means the same as but not including. As my answer indicates, up to should already get the point across, but because people do use that for the inclusive case also you need to add but... to be very clear. I know of nothing shorter. – Drew Apr 13 '15 at 21:23

The phrase up to is used to sort things into two groups based on their relationship to a criterion. The difficulty arises when the criterion to which up to refers consists of something that has a duration or value in itself, different from the values on either side of it.

Consider examples in which the criterion has no such distinct value

He was happy up to the moment he died.

Up to takeoff, the rocket is tethered to the launch pad.

Generally people consider the moment of death to have no duration. Dead or not-dead. Before death, happy; after death, not (or not determinable). The rocket is attached or not attached.

When the criterion has its own point on the scale, the use of up to becomes ambiguous (unless further qualified)

We will give dispensations for people earning up to $1000.

They are accepting applications up to July 1.

People who are up to 4 foot 6 inches tall are banned from the roller coaster.

What about people who earn exactly $1000? Those who apply on July 1? The 4 foot 6 inch daredevil?

As @Janus Bahs Jacquet suggests, the means of eliminating the ambiguity is to indicate whether the criterion value is included or excluded from the partition.

We will give dispensations for people earning up to and including $1000.

They are accepting applications up to, but not including, July 1.

People who are up to and including 4 foot 6 inches tall are banned from the roller coaster.

An alternative is to use under or over, before and after (or beyond)

We will give dispensations for people earning under $1001. [Note the change in amount]

They are accepting applications before July 1.

People who are under 4 foot 7 inches tall are banned from the roller coaster. [Again a change in value; this assumes most people report height in full inches].

The term until shares the same ambiguities with up to.

  • Long answer, just circling around, not addressing the question. – Tomas Feb 15 at 23:18

Up to, in itself, is open to interpretation on this point.

Often the writer's intent can be worked out from the context, and that is true of your case, because the second clause tells you that things are different for later visits.

To see this one can compare it to the following:

The study was carried out up to visit 11 under the name of X1. From visit 12 onwards, visits were carried out under a different name, X2.

Both versions make sense, but differ on the question of including visit 11.

They both also share the unfortunate feature that you need to read the second clause in order to fully understand the first. This is not good practice, especially in technical writing.

When precision is important it is usually better not to rely on up to.

In your case, it would be better to put up to and including, which would make the meaning of the first clause precise without reference to the second. There are also other ways of making the point more clearly, including that given by @medica in a comment.

  • 1
    In both the original and your rewrite, I would very much be left with doubts as to whether visit 11 was X1 or X2. Neither wording is in any way conclusive to me, with or without the second sentence. To be unambiguous, I would say up to and including, or use the phrasing suggested by @medica in her comment. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 19 '14 at 10:43
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Fair enough, to me the writer's intent can be seen in both cases, but there's definitely too much work required of the reader and I agree that neither is ideal. I'll edit to make that clearer. – Rupe Jun 19 '14 at 10:48
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    @JanusBahsJacquet I also noticed a typo, it was supposed to say "From visit 12 onwards". I can well understand how "From visit 11 onwards..." would have left you in doubt! – Rupe Jun 19 '14 at 10:56
  • Ah yes—with that change, it is perfectly unambiguous. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 19 '14 at 13:16

I found a verse in the Bible (KJV) with up to

Consider 2 Corinthians 12:2,

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago...such an one caught up to the third heaven

It clearly indicates that up to is exclusive rather than inclusive, because apostle Paul was caught up, but should have never been in the third heaven, no nobody did except the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • I think this is a different use, "up" seems to be closely bound to "catch" - "catch up", rather than to "to" - "up to". I.e. I see it more like [catch up] to [the third heaven] rather than catch [up to] [the third heaven]. – Tomas Feb 16 at 11:01

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