Until, till

Until can function as a conjunction or a preposition. Here’s how we use it.

Until
Until (conjunction)
Until means 'up to the event mentioned'.

I'll stay here until you come back.
We have to wait until he arrives.
We do not use will after until when speaking about the future.

I'll stay here until you come back.
until you will come

We have to wait until he arrives.
until he will arrive
When we use a negative construction (with not) in the main clause, until means 'not before'.

I won't (will not) start cooking until you come home. (= 'not before you come home')
I can't (cannot) read the newspaper until I find my glasses. (= 'not before I find my glasses')
We sometimes use the constructions have + past participle and had + past participle with until.
I can't wash any clothes until they have repaired the washing machine.
He didn't offer us a drink until we had finished eating.
Until (preposition)

Until means 'up to the point in time mentioned'.

We’ll wait until Monday.
I'll be here until two o'clock.
until Christmas, until my birthday
Until refers to time. It doesn’t refer to distance.

until tomorrow, until six o'clock
until three kilometres
Till is often used in informal spoken English as a short form of until. Some people also use 'til.

We waited till 3 o'clock.
I'm not leaving till you apologise.

More examples of until as a conjunction:

  • They played football until it got dark.
  • You’re not watching TV until you finish your dinner.
  • You’re not watching TV until you’ve finished your dinner. [the same meaning]
  • I didn’t know she was French until she spoke.

More examples of until as a preposition:

  • We stayed on the train until York.
  • The kids stayed awake until midnight.
  • The neighbours play music from morning till night. [till = informal, spoken English]
  • From Dusk till Dawn

20 Comments

  1. joanna - September 30, 2015, 11:02 pm Reply

    hey,
    i have a question? can i use “till” in this sentence ‘my food will be gone till tomorrow’ or its ‘by tomorrow’

    thank u for the answer

    Joanna

    • Stuart Cook - October 1, 2015, 11:28 am Reply

      Hi,
      If what you want to say is that you have food now but tomorrow it’ll be gone, then ‘my food will be gone by tomorrow’ is correct.

  2. tieu thu kieu ki - October 23, 2015, 5:37 am Reply

    I (stay)………………until you (come)……………….tomorrow

  3. Anonymous - November 11, 2015, 9:38 pm Reply

    hello,
    Is this sentence correct? ”Until Christmas, we must have finished unit 9”
    ….a friend corrected me by replacing ”until” with ”by”.
    is what I’d written wrong or is there no difference??
    I would really like to know so that I won’t make this mistake again.
    thank you!

    • Stuart Cook - November 12, 2015, 1:51 pm Reply

      Yes, it should be ‘by Christmas’.

  4. Rayano - December 13, 2015, 2:18 pm Reply

    Thank you, very good lesson

  5. Anonymous - December 25, 2015, 8:17 pm Reply

    “We won’t perform those aerobic steps until you feel comfortable” ; this sentence would mean that when you feel comfortable then only we’ll perform those aerobic steps… right?

  6. abeer - January 1, 2016, 12:19 pm Reply

    “They haven’t phoned us until they had reached their destination” is this sentence correct ??

    • Anonymous - January 1, 2017, 7:29 pm Reply

      incorrect. You can’t combine Present Perfect with Past Perfect. You must change the Present Perfect tense in the main clause into Past Simple “didn’t phone”.

  7. hon - January 8, 2016, 2:29 pm Reply

    Hi!
    I’m just confused with tenses TT
    How should i complete this sentence?? :
    She had thought about getting a Volkswagen until…
    Can we say ‘ until she got a new job’?

    • Sarah - June 21, 2016, 5:35 pm Reply

      “She had thought about getting a new Volkswagen until she got a new job” means that she was thinking about getting a new Volkswagen, but as soon as she got a new job, she stopped thinking about it (that is to say, she didn’t want to buy a new Volkswagen after she got a new job).

      If that’s what you want to say, then that sentence is right 🙂

      • Gordon Edward Steele - December 3, 2016, 6:43 am Reply

        The writer’s reply is correct but not very logical. Why would someone stop thinking about buying a new VW up to the point they got a job? Isn’t buying the car the point of the job. Take your pick, replace “until” with “as soon as” or “after”.

  8. John - January 22, 2016, 10:49 am Reply

    I didn’t known she was FRench until she spoke or until she had spoken?

  9. Anonymous - April 1, 2016, 12:51 pm Reply

    Is ‘Can’t wait till next year’ right?

  10. Anonymous - August 27, 2016, 2:47 am Reply

    I would like to know what do you mean “not before”? Please!

    I won’t (will not) start cooking until you come home. (= ‘not before you come home’)
    I can’t (cannot) read the newspaper until I find my glasses. (= ‘not before I find my glasses’)
    I can’t read the newspaper even though I find my glasses. or I can’t read the newspaper as if I don’t find my glasses. Which sentence is closely similar to your example?

  11. Anonymous - September 8, 2016, 12:47 pm Reply

    I have a question. The karate sensei texted me “No class till Wesnesday due to labor day” . By my understanding, classes will resume Thursday but he said classes resume Wednesday. Am i wrong?

  12. Joe - February 1, 2017, 8:23 am Reply

    I’m confused as to what the customer want to confirm when they say, So I don’t have any payment due unti 12/ 12/17. Does this mean they don’t have anything due before 12/12/17 but it will be due on 12/12/17? Can you clarify please? thank you.

  13. Kyawt kay khing - April 17, 2017, 2:45 pm Reply

    Can i use until with negative
    (Until it is not a perfect love;may be perfect by love)

  14. Anonymous - April 27, 2017, 3:17 pm Reply

    Can we use….. we ran until we catch the train

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