[thelist] Many or More?

Craig Cook craigcook at gmail.com
Thu Oct 12 16:52:16 CDT 2006

> Julian Rickards wrote:

> > My statement is "most web pages created since the mid-1990's use tables for
> > layout" and she wonders if I should have written "many" instead of "most".

It's the combination of the words "most" and "since" that makes this a
pickle. "Since" is a period of time beginning in the mid-90s and
continuing through the present. And if "present" is connoted as the
time the statement is read, not just when it was written, when someone
reads your book a decade from now your statement may become untrue.

So if you wish to say "most" you need to limit its timespan with
"during", a precise period ending no later than 2000, which is about
the time popular browsers finally supported CSS well enough that we
could begin using it for page layout. So the statement "most web pages
created during the mid-1990s used tables for layout" is true in the
past tense and will remain a true statement forever.

OTOH, if you want to cover the time period from the mid-90s to the
present (whenever the future present may be), you should soften it
with "many" to maintain the truth of the statement: "Many web pages
created since the mid-1990s use tables for layout" was true then, is
true now (at the time of this writing, that is), and will surely be
true for at least a few more years (after the time of this writing, of

And of course, tables were *not* used for layout prior to the mid-90s
because either A) tables hadn't yet been introduced in HTML or B) HTML
hadn't yet been introduced to the world, so either version of the
statement will at least have backwards-compatible truth.


Craig, www.focalcurve.com

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