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TOPIC: By vs Until

The Difference Between "By" and "Until" 2 years 11 months ago #7577

  • Chuck OysterCafe
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In this English grammar lesson, we will teach you the difference between the prepositions of time “by” and “until”.

이번 문법 강의에서는 'by'와 'until'을 올바르게 사용하는 방법을 알려드립니다.

By

When used as a preposition of time, “by” means before a specific time. Or, to put it another way, “by” shows a time limit for something to happen.

If an event must happen before a specific time is reached, then you should use “by”.

Examples: By
* Josh will be back from Australia by Tuesday.
* I want to be able to run 10K by April. (i.e. I want to run 10K before April 1st.)
* Please finish your homework by Friday. (i.e. Give me your homework before the end of the day on Friday.)

Until

When used as a preposition of time, “until” describes a continuous action that ceases at a specific time. We use “until” to describe the duration of an action before a specific time or deadline.

Examples: Until
* Josh is staying in Seoul until November 1st. (i.e. He will leave on November 1st.)
* I will exercise until 5 p.m. (i.e. I am not going to stop exercising until 5 p.m.)
* You have until 5 p.m. to finish that report. (i.e. Give me the report by 5 p.m at the latest.)

Note: ‘Till’ can be used in place of ‘until’ in informal situations.

Examples: Till
* What time are you open till?
* I will be here till tomorrow.
* I will wait here till you return.

Please look at the following examples to get a better understanding of how ‘by’ and ‘until’ differ.

Examples: By/Until
* I must leave by 8 p.m. (i.e. I can’t stay later than 8 p.m.)
* I can only stay until 8 p.m. (i.e. I can’t stay later than 8 p.m.)
* I will stay here until 7.30. (i.e. I will leave at 7.30 exactly.)
* I will stay here until at least 7.30. (i.e. I will not leave before 7.30.)
* I will leave here by 7.30. (i.e. I will leave sometime before 7.30 – but close to 7.30.)

Situation: Talking about a report you must do by the Sunday deadline.
* I have until Sunday to finish my research.
* I must finish my research by Sunday.

Situation: Talking about a friend who is leaving the country on November 1st.
* Josh will be in Korea until November 1st.
* Josh will be gone by November 2nd.
* Josh will have left Korea by the 3rd of November. (He is leaving on the 1st.)
* Josh can’t come to your party on the 3rd because he is only in Korea until the 1st.

We hope this lesson helped you understand the difference between ‘by’ and ‘until’. Don’t forget to check out the other forums to learn grammar , communication skills , Business English, and everyday English . Or, if you really want to master English, why not join our site and get access to over 500 lessons?


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Last edit: by Chuck OysterCafe.

By vs Until 6 months 2 weeks ago #7681

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By

As a preposition of time, “by” means at or before a specific time. Or, to put it another way, “by” shows a time limit for something to happen. If an event or action must happen at or before a specific time, then you should use “by”.

Communication tip:By’ is often used to indicate a deadline. As in, the event/action can conclude or be done before but not after this time.

Examples: By
* You have to finish the course by May 31./ (i.e. May 31 is the last day you can finish the course; you may finish before this date.)
* Josh will be back by 7 p.m. / (i.e. Josh might be back before then, but if you come after 7 p.m. he will be here for sure.)
* Josh will be back from lunch by midday.
* I want to be able to speak English well by Christmas.
* Please finish your proposal by Friday. / (i.e. Complete your proposal before the end of the day on Friday.)

Until
When used as a preposition of time, “until” describes a continuous action that ceases at a specific time. In general, we use “until” to describe the duration of an action before a specific time or deadline.
In short, until tells us how long a situation continues. So, if something happens until a particular time, you stop doing it at that time.

Examples: Until
* They lived Sydney until December 1st, 2020. / (i.e. They stopped living in Sydney on December 1st, 2020.)
* I will be in Korea until Wednesday. / (i.e. I will be back from Korea on Wednesday.)
* Josh is staying at home until he feels better.
* I will continue dieting until I lose 5kg.
* You have until Thursday. to finish that report. (i.e. Give me the report by Thursday. at the latest)

We also use not...until in negative sentences.

Examples: not....until
* Details of the sale will not be available until March. / (i.e. March is the earliest you can expect to receive the details of the sale.)
* You cannot have ice cream until you finish your vegetables.

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