16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 through 0xFFFF

16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 to 0xFFFF

Which expression is better above?

3 Answers 3

  • In British English, through means 'up to' (Monday≤Open<Friday) and to means 'up to and including' (Monday≤Open≤Friday).
  • In Australian English, it's the other way around.
  • In US English, they're interchangeable. People seem to go the way of the Ausies naturally when they hear through in California, at least.

Therefore, the writer has precedence and may assign the intended meaning if he or she feels it is necessary.

Here are some alternatives: from x up to and including y; starting from x ending in/with y; from x, not exceeding y; from x through to y, inclusive.

If you consider through as short-form for "through to the beginning of" ("through non-inclusive" would make sense), it becomes apparent why British English seldom included y in 2011. However, if you look at through independently, "through to the end of", you could imagine time passing through the second object as a thread passes through a needle.

  • 2
    In American English, 'through' means 'up to and including' because of pidgining. People sometimes used incorrect words that were closely synonymous in an attempt to be more clear when there were communication issues. This is one of those words. Oct 10, 2011 at 5:29
  • 4
    I'm Australian, and I've studied a variety of mathematical and engineering texts, and "through" has always meant "up to and including" whereas "to" has always meant "up to" Oct 10, 2011 at 5:50
  • 4
    In British English 50 years ago "Monday through Friday" was meaningless, and unless the context clarified it would have elicited a reply like "what do you mean 'through Friday'?" or "through Friday to when?". Now the expression is widely known, but to me it is still an Americanism.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 10, 2011 at 13:20
  • Interesting. Nobody would ask what the other meant in the US, these days. "Through" just means including. It's one of those 'absolutely nothing' conversations: "Do you mean to include Friday?" .... In the list of weekdays? Well..., I guess.... Oct 10, 2011 at 17:04

In British English, "to" can be both inclusive and exclusive. "Through" isn't usually used in this way.

In American English, "through" is inclusive.

So it depends on your audience. To be safe, use something unambiguous: "through to", or "up to and including", or "to X, inclusive".

  • 6
    +1 for "up to and including", which leaves no room for ambiguity.
    – user13141
    Oct 10, 2011 at 8:07
  • 3
    I can confirm that it IS used this way in American English, at least on the East Coast and on the West Coast, from Long Beach to Sac Town, to the Bay Area and back down. Oct 10, 2011 at 10:31

As a Brit, I would never say Monday through Friday to mean including Friday or not including Friday. I would say Monday to Friday to include Friday. If I meant to exclude Friday I'd say Monday to Thursday. To me through means to some time later. I might therefore say Monday through to Friday meaning throught the week until (and including) Friday but the through seems redundant. As a mathematician I'd use 'to': 1 to 9 (inclusive or exclusive as the case may be), or more technical terms stating whether the set was open at either end.

  • So is this you as a Brit or Brits in general? Any idea?
    – Drew
    Apr 12, 2016 at 2:03
  • 1
    And are you saying that you would never, ever say "(lower-limit) through (upper-limit)"? Apr 12, 2016 at 2:21
  • As a non-mathematical Brit I agree with matt. I would never say "the shop's open Monday through Friday". I'd say "the shop's open Monday(s) to Friday(s)" (i.e. all 5 weekdays). If I said "Include all numbers between 7 and 11! I would mean only 8, 9 and 10 (this, though, might be mis-understood!). If I wanted to include 7 and 11 I'd say "Include all numbers from 7 to 11".
    – Dan
    May 8, 2019 at 10:05

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