Prepositions: By Vs. Until from Happy English NY

Michael Grammar Leave a Comment

Welcome back! Today, let’s continue our chat about prepositions. Do you know the difference between by and until? Both of these prepositions have a similar meaning such as, “some time before something” or “before a certain time.” Let’s look at by first.

By is used to talk about deadlines.
When you do something by a certain time, day, date, etc…that certain time is the deadline. You complete something by a certain time, and we usually use by with verbs that show a one-time action.

  • If we get to the station by 3pm we can catch the train.
    (This means the deadline for getting to the station to catch the train is 3pm
  • Please complete your essay by Friday
    (This means Friday is the deadline for completing your essay
  • Can you finish work by 6 tonight? If so, we can catch a movie.
    (This means 6pm tonight is the deadline)

Until is used to talk about a period of time, with an end
If you do something until a certain time, day, date, etc…it means you are doing that thing and when the certain time, day, date, etc. comes, you stop doing it. You continue doing something until a certain time. We usually use verbs that show continuous action with until.

  • We have until 3pm to get to the station to catch the train
    (This means that if we reach the station anytime between now and 3pm, we can catch the train
  • You have until Friday to complete your essay.
    (This means that between now and Friday you need to complete your essay
  • I’m working until 6 tonight.
    (This means that between some time and 6pm I will be working, but no later than 6pm)

Well, I only have until noon to complete this lesson, because I need to get to the train station by 12:20pm to make my train. What time do you work until today?