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In an article, I read the following line:

Major-General Bajwa tweeted that between seven and 10 terrorists (as per early estimates) dressed in constabulary uniform, attempted to break into the base early on Friday morning.

To my mind, seven and 10 both show the number of terrorists (as they were not sure about the number before) as the word 'between' is put before seven, but then what is a need of writing seven and 10 in different manner, viz. word and number respectively? Is it a Tweeter's method?

Or it is showing the time when terrorists entered into the base? (IMHO, if we put a comma after seven and 10 then the sentence will show the time when terrorists entered in the base.)

Also, if seven and 10 show number of terrorists, then which phrasing is correct:

  • between seven and 10 terrorists

OR:

  • between seven to 10 terrorists

Please guide me as I am confused about this.

  • This is strange to me. Beyond any rule, I'd better be consistent in writing two numbers separated by 'and'. If I spell, I'll spell both. However, as you described, 'tweets' are just 'grammar-free'. – Maulik V Sep 18 '15 at 12:52
  • Many style guides recommend spelliing out single-digit numbers, but using numerals for numbers 10 and over. – J.R. Sep 18 '15 at 13:29
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“Spell out numbers less than 10”
This simple haiku
Explains why seven is used


As for the word between, we use the word and in between the numbers:

between seven and 10

However, we use the word to when there is no between:

seven to 10

So, for example, if I eat one or two apples a day for about 13 weeks, then I might say:

I ate seven to 11 apples each week for the past three months.
I ate between seven and 11 apples each week for the past three months.


You're right about the comma. If we add a comma, the expression between seven and 10 no longer refers to the word terrorists, so I'd interpret that as talking about the time:

Major-General Bajwa tweeted that between seven and 10 [o'clock], terrorists attempted to break into the base on Friday morning.

However, I'd recommend the writer keep the "when" parts of that tweet together:

Major-General Bajwa tweeted that between seven and 10 on Friday morning, terrorists attempted to break into the base.

Incidentally, the word early in the original tweet might have clued you in that the phrase between seven and 10 referred to the number of terrorists, not the time, as few generals would regard 10AM as "early morning".

  • 1
    +1 for the length; of each sentence in your post; I really liked that. – DJMcMayhem Sep 18 '15 at 14:25
  • Very precise answer, Sir! My doubts are clear now. – Rucheer M Sep 19 '15 at 12:38
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It's a formal rule to spell out numbers below 10. one two three etc. I do not see the need for it in a tweet though.

Here is a website explaining the rules for numbers http://www.dailywritingtips.com/10-rules-for-writing-numbers-and-numerals/

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It does sound like they're talking about when the terrorists broke in, and spelling the numbers less then 10 is a rule, but in a tweet I don't see why they would use that rule. Also if they're talking about time I don't see why they don't just use 7:00 and 10:00, because I'm pretty sure that is more correct then seven and 10

  • I don't think this refers to the time, but to the number of terrorists. Had it been referring to the time, the numbers would be moved to later in the sentence: Some terrorists dressed in constabulary uniform attempted to break into the base early on Friday morning between 7 and 10 AM. – J.R. Sep 18 '15 at 18:01
  • Oh ok makes some sense. – Sam Harrington Sep 18 '15 at 20:13
  • @J.R. Sir, if seven and 10 show number of terrorists, then which sentence is correct: Between seven and 10 terrorists OR Between seven to 10 terrorists? IMHO, if we put a comma after seven and 10 then the sentence will show the time when terrorists entered in the base. Please correct me if I am wrong. – Rucheer M Sep 19 '15 at 4:19
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    You're right about the comma. If we add a comma, the expression between seven and 10 no longer refers to the word terrorists, so I'd interpret that as talking about the time: Major-General Bajwa tweeted that between seven and 10 [o'clock], terrorists attempted to break into the base on Friday morning. However, I'd recommend the writer keep the "when" parts of that tweet together: Major-General Bajwa tweeted that between seven and 10 on Friday morning, terrorists attempted to break into the base. As for the words "and" and "to", see my updated answer. – J.R. Sep 19 '15 at 10:16

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