Though they share a common definition, there’s much confusion surrounding the use of till vs. until, and even the widely used (but technically incorrect) ’til.
Settle the difference once and for all by studying each word’s origins below so you can write with confidence and understand one of the most common misconceptions in writing.
What Is the Difference Between Till and Until?
Until and till actually mean the same thing: both indicate a period “up to” a certain point or event. According to Merriam Webster, each can be used as a preposition or conjunction.
Till, though commonly misperceived as an abbreviation, actually existed at least a century before until, staying in frequent use since the 12th century.
Till carries an additional definition: it can also be used to refer to a money drawer in a store or bank, a meaning its held since the 15th century.
Till vs. ’Til
‘Til is often used as an abbreviation of until, and while some dictionaries cite it as acceptable for very informal writing, it’s not actually considered correct.
One reason ’til is still widely used is because many people incorrectly believe that till is somehow an incorrect or informal abbreviation of until.
Since until only has one ‘l,’ some conclude that the right abbreviation must be a contraction, ’til.
Now that we’ve explained the much older origins of till, you won’t have to worry about making that mistake again!
What Is the Difference Between Unless and Until?
Unless is a conjunction that means “except if.” Though they carry different definitions, there are some cases in which either until or unless can be used while still conveying the same meaning.
“Unless she gives me an answer, I won’t be able to proceed with the planning for our party”
means the same as:
“Until she gives me an answer, I won’t be able to proceed with the planning for our party.”
Examples of Until and Till in Sentences
Below are several examples of how until and till can be used to convey the same meaning in sentences:
- I will be out of the office until next Monday.
- We’re fully booked till the 5th of June.
- Until you learn to behave, you won’t have any playdates.
- I can’t wait till next Friday for a response.
- The store will be closed until after the holidays.
- The phrase “till death do us part” is included in some traditional wedding vows.
Till vs. Until
Till and until share the same definition, but while till is actually much older, many writers incorrectly use ’til as an abbreviation or substitute for until.
Now that we’ve explored the origins and definitions of each of these words, you can avoid one of the most common mistakes and ensure that your writing is always professional and effective.
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