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?