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I'm working on a sentence (example below). It doesn't quite feel right:

I tried to count the number of cars driven during 1980-1990.

Specifically, the issue here is about usage of the preposition 'during' with the time period '1980-1990'. I'm not so sure how to treat that period as a grammatical object.

I've considered some alternatives:

I tried to count the number of cars driven throughout 1980-1990.

(Doesn't sound good.)

I tried to count the number of cars driven between 1980 and 1990.

(Ambiguous due to not specifying that the range of years is inclusive.)

Any suggestions on how I should do this?

  • It's really inclusive of both 1980 and 1990? You're really studying an eleven year period? – tobyink Oct 21 '14 at 21:37
  • driven by whom? By any motorist or by yourself? "I tried to count the number of cars I had driven..." – Mari-Lou A Oct 22 '14 at 1:57
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All I think you're missing here is being specific:

I tried to count the number of cars driven during the period 1980-1990.

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"I tried counting the number of cars driven from 1980 to 1990."

"From" defines a beginning and end. "tried counting" rolls off the tongue better than "tried to count" IMO; fewer words, nicer rhythm.

  • imho there is a difference in meaning between "tried to count" and "tried counting". – Centaurus Oct 22 '14 at 0:36
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You have to be specific about dates. If you want to include the whole years of 1980 and 1990, you just say

"I tried to count the number of cars driven from Jan 1st, 1980 through Dec 31st, 1990." (through = up to and including)

If you say

"I tried to count the number of cars driven during the eighties."

that wouldn't include 1990.

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I think it's hard to get rid of the ambiguity unless you deal with it directly.

I tried to count the number of cars driven in the period from the beginning of 1980 to the end of 1990.

I tried to count the number of cars driven in the years 1980-1990 (inclusive).

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