Back in school I was taught that "from" should always be paired with "to" to indicate time ranges, as in

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901.

But now, I frequently see a dash used instead of "to," following "from":

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1901.

Is that combination of word and dash correct?

  • Welcome to ELU! Have you done any research? That way, our community can better help you answer your question. – Nicole Apr 14 '15 at 20:45
  • Thank you and yes, I did. “from 2009–2012” and “between 2009–2012” are incorrect; either use both from and to, or between and and, or neither" , This gives me an impression people are illiterate, even newspaper editors... – Mike Apr 14 '15 at 20:58
  • Can you share that research with us? It helps us not to duplicate efforts. – Nicole Apr 14 '15 at 21:00
  • Now I found an answer to my own question. Thank you – Mike Apr 14 '15 at 21:04
  • Great! Can you put it in an answer and accept it? So if other people have the same question as you did, they can find it here :) – Nicole Apr 14 '15 at 21:59

This is primarily a style question, although there is a strong consensus among style guides that mixing opening range words (from or between) with punctuation marks (a hyphen [-] or an en dash [–]) instead of with closing range words (to or and) is bad form.

Words Into Type, third edition (1974), for example, offers a detailed guideline on this point:

To represent to between figures or words an en dash is used. (Some publisher accept a hyphen but those who use the en dash feel that a hyphen is a poor substitute and should be reserved for its own uses, as a connector in compound words and as a separator in showing syllabication.)

[Example:] the years 1970–73

The word to, not an en dash, must be used if the numbers are preceded by the word from.

Wrong: Completion of the transcontinental railroad from 1869–1885.

Right: Completion of the transcontinental railroad from 1869 to 1885.

Or: Completion of the transcontinental railroad, 1869–1885.

To similar effect is the advice in the Chicago Manual of Style, fifteenth edition (2003):

9.62 When to use the en dash. An en dash used between two numbers implies up to and including, or through

[Relevant example:] Here are the figures for 1999–2000

9.63 When not to use the en dash. If from or between is used before the first of a pair of numbers, the en dash should not be used; instead, from should be followed by to or through, between by and. The wording should indicate the degree of inclusiveness. Avoid between ... and where precision is required.

Other style guides may differ on this point, of course, but the general argument in favor of consistency seems well expressed here by both WIT and Chicago.

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Either use both from and to, or between and and, or neither.

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  • During the time frame 1990-1995 ... – Ronnie Royston May 14 '15 at 23:20

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