Until

'Until' is a word that is commonly used in the English language. In this lesson, we will learn more about it and its uses.

How to Use "Until" in English?

'Until' is both a preposition and a conjunction. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.

Functions of 'Until'

'Until' as a Preposition

As was mentioned above, 'until' can function as a preposition. Below, we are going to learn all about it:

Use

'Until' as a Preposition of Time

'Until' can be a preposition of time. Look below:

  • When we want to state that something continues up to a particular point in time or a stated event, we use 'until'. Look:

The people kept on dancing until 2 a.m.

Let's watch a short film until then.

  • When we have to wait some time to get to a particular destination, we use 'until'. Look:

Get on this train and stay on it until Apple station and then change.

That woman ought to wait a few more until platform 15.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'until' is a preposition here, we use it before nouns or noun phrases. We can start a sentence with a prepositional phrase, put it in the middle, or at the end. Look:

Why don't you go play with the other girls until lunchtime?

Until the final result, Mr. Depp and Ms. Heard must wait.

Warning!

Please note that whenever we have a prepositional phrase at the beginning of the sentence, we must put a comma after it. Look:

Until our next meeting, you can prepare for your final exam.

'Until' as a Conjunction

Another function of 'until' is a conjunction. Below, we are going to learn all about it:

Use

'Until' as a Subordinating Conjunction

'Until' is a subordinating conjunction that connects an action to a point in time. Take a look at the following examples for more clarification:

You won't reach your dreams until you try your best.

As you can see, 'until' is used to join two independent clauses here.

It will help you pass the time until we're ready to go.

Position in a Sentence

Since 'until' is a subordinating conjunction , we mainly put it at the beginning of the subordinating clause, or between the two clauses we want to connect. Look below:

I think it's better if you help me cook dinner until the visitors come back in the evening.

As you can see, we have the subordinating conjunction between the two clauses.

Until it was the right moment to speak, Jace thought it best to avoid him.

Here, we have the subordinating conjunction at the beginning of the subordinating clause.

Tip

It might be helpful to know that in spoken English, native speakers mainly use 'till' instead of 'until'. Look:

Let me read you a story till you fall asleep.

Idioms and Expressions

We have some idioms and expressions with 'until'. Let us analyze them below:

  • Until Doomsday: This one is informal and we use it when we want to talk about a very long time:

We will not see each other until Doomsday.

It seems that humans won't be at peace with each other until Doomsday.

  • Not until: This one means 'not before'. Take a look below:

The children cannot enter class until they have submitted their names in the system.

Amy is not allowed to play with the kitten until she has done her homework completely.

  • Until now: This one is used in negative statements to show that something was not done until now, but there has been a change of plans. Look:

I had never given it a second thought until now.

Here, it can be inferred that from now on, he/she will give whatever it is a second thought.

The cats weren't moving until now.

Warning!

Please note that we do not use future time 'will' in the clause with 'until'. Compare:

I will wait here until the rain stops.

(Not I will wait here until the rain will stop..)

They will arrive until dinner is ready.

(Not they will arrive until dinner will be ready..)

Until vs. By

These two are slightly different and sometimes it becomes tricky to know which one to use. 'Until' is used when we want to indicate that something continues to the time mentioned. However, 'by' is used when we want to state that something must be finished and cannot continue after that particular time. Compare the following sentences:

I am only available to answer your questions until midnight.

Here, it means that the action takes place till the specified time.

All students must've handed in their reports by 4 o'clock.

Here, it means that the action cannot go on after the specified time.

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