One Point English Lesson – By Vs. Until

MichaelADGrammar Leave a Comment

What is the difference between BY and UNTIL?

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. You can end by, start by, go by, finish by, and so on.

  • 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. You can do until, have until, stay until, work until, and so on.

  • 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)

Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.

You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).

If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!


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