There are many words in English that usually confuse us as to what they mean and how we can use them correctly etc. They are quite similar and sometimes it is hard to know which one is the right one to use. For example, should we use quit quite or quiet, till until or unless accept except or expect, advice or advise, either or neither, enable or unable? These words look similar and sound similar and some words are similar in meaning but they are not used in the same way which makes people confused. And in this article, we will focus on the words “till, until, and unless” which are often confused and misused. People often mess up these words and here we will explain how we can use them accurately with various examples. Let’s begin with “until”.
The word “until” means till the time or before and up to a particular time or event and it is always used in the context of time. It sets the condition and time limit in the sentence and is used in a condition where one event depends on the outcome of another event. For example,
I’ll stay here until you agree.
Here the main focus is on time. The first action I’ll stay here is dependent on the second until you agree and until is used to set a time factor or deadline
Until already has a negative meaning so don’t use “not” with until.
Don’t watch the movie until you do not finish your work.❎
Don’t watch the movie until you finish your work.☑️
Until can be used both as a subordinate conjunction and as a preposition of time. When until is used as a conjunction it joins two clauses but when it is used as a preposition it is usually followed by a noun and shows the relation of the noun or pronoun with an element in the sentence. For instance,
I will watch the World Cup match until Pakistan wins. (conjunction)
I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. (Preposition)
It refers to a specific time up to which something must happen. Until cannot be used when we are talking about something that will happen before a specific time or deadline. For example,
I will finish my work by 2 o’clock.
It is not a conditional sentence so we can’t use it until here.
Do not use will after “until” when talking about the future. for example,
We will wait until the train arrives.☑️
We will wait until the train will arrive.❎
- We won’t play until the rain stops.
- Don’t move until I tell you to.
- You can’t leave until you finish your job.
- Let the music play until the party starts.
- Until you finish your homework, you can’t play the game.
- We can wait until Sunday.
- I will wait until she arrives.
- Until they teach you, keep quiet.
- He is on leave until June.
- She cannot leave until the rain stops.
- You will never know the truth until you try.
Unless is very similar in meaning to until but it is not used in the same way. It is a subordinate conjunction which means except if or if… not (if something doesn’t happen something else will not happen as a result of it). It sets a precondition in which a given event is possible. For instance,
I cannot help you unless you tell me what’s wrong.
Unless is used in a conditional sentence and has a negative sense so don’t use not after unless.
You cannot achieve your goal unless you work hard.☑️
You cannot achieve your goal unless you do not work hard. ❎
Do not use well after “unless” when talking about the future.
I’ll not spare you unless you prove yourself innocent.☑️
I’ll not spare you unless you will prove yourself innocent.❎
- You cannot pass the exam unless you learn grammar.
- You can’t progress unless you work hard.
- We cannot play unless the rain stops.
- I don’t pick up the phone unless it’s necessary.
- You can’t leave this job unless he permits you.
- You will be sick unless you quit smoking.
- You can’t swim unless you practice.
- You cannot be happy unless you obey your parents.
- You will feel cold unless you wear a coat.
- A baby never cries unless it is hungry.
- You cannot enter here unless you have a pass.
- Don’t speak unless you have something worth saying.
Till and until have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably and synonymously. There is a slight difference between till and until, Till is usually used when the time of the action is certain and it cannot be used at the beginning of a sentence, on the other hand until is often used at the beginning of the sentence. Till is less formal than until, and more common in conversation. Till is not used in formal writing but until can be used in both formal and informal writing.
- I will teach you till the exam.
- I am free till 6:00 a.m.
- They play chess till
- I will stay here till he comes.
- I will be there till 4 o’clock.
- The meeting will be postponed till 8:00 p.m.
- Wait till the end.
- The movie won’t end till 9:00 p.m.
- I used to study till late at night.
- You can stay there till.