Prepositions: By & Until

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By and until describe a time limit

“By” means “no later than” or “at the point in time when.”


  • I need an answer by next Tuesday. (= no later than)
  • We should have your car repaired by 4 o’clock this afternoon. (= no later than)
  • By the time you read this letter, I’ll already be on my way to California. (= at the point in time when)

“Until” expresses how long an activity has continued or will continue.

  • They’ll keep talking until you tell them to be quiet.
  • Seth lived at home with his parents until he was 25.

Use “until” with “have” or “give” to express a deadline:

  • You have until midnight on April 14 to file your taxes.
  • I’m giving you until tomorrow morning to turn in your homework.

NOTE: “Till” is an informal form of “until.”

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