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"The house is on the right side of the street, between the yard of the prison."

Between requires a comparison between at least two things, like "between the yard of the prison and the cemetery", but only one is mentioned here.

Is there some explanation for the way this sentence was written?

  • Do you have a source for the quote? Or other context? – James Waldby - jwpat7 Dec 12 '14 at 16:36
  • When I first read this, my mind parsed it as 'between the yard and the prison'. It's possibly a typo. – dwjohnston Feb 11 '16 at 11:49
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You're right.

The writer of that sentence either accidentally missed out the other reference point, or they had some kind of brainstorm and used a different preposition than the one they meant to (e.g. 'between' instead of 'beyond').

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    I think you meant "brain fart". A "brainstorm" refers to a good idea, not to stupefaction. – Brian Hitchcock Dec 12 '14 at 11:17
  • @BrianHitchcock - It can mean either. See Merriam-Webster's definition: brain·storm noun \-ˌstȯrm\ : an idea that someone thinks of suddenly : a temporary state of confusion : a period of unclear thinking. Full definition of BRAINSTORM - 1: a violent transient fit of insanity ; 2a : a sudden bright idea ; 2b : a harebrained idea : Examples of BRAINSTORM: "I'm sorry—I must have been having a brainstorm when I wrote that." – Erik Kowal Dec 12 '14 at 16:01
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    I had a basketball coach in high school who used "brainstorm" in the sense of "making an unaccountable, bizarre decision"; unfortunately, he used it in reference to an on-court decision that I made. – Sven Yargs Dec 18 '14 at 6:12
  • @SvenYargs - Ah, but today you are here, a star contributor on these language forums, while your former coach languishes in penurious obscurity, detested even by his wives and bedbugs. – Erik Kowal Dec 18 '14 at 7:03
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The sentence actually doesn't make sense and was likely an accidental omission by the author. For example, either of the following sentences would be considered correct:

"The house is on the right side of the street, between the yard of the prison and the jailhouse."

Perhaps:

"The house is on the right side of the street, between the yards of the prison."

The compound preposition "between" necessarily implies that there are at least two distinct objects, times, or locations.

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I'm not sure but to me it seems most likely that the author simply used of instead of and by mistake.

The house is on the right side of the street, between the yard of the prison

vs.

The house is on the right side of the street, between the yard and the prison.

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