BY and UNTIL - take this QUIZ to learn the difference| DailyStep English

BY and UNTIL - take this QUIZ to learn the difference

 

 

English teacher at DailyStep EnglishHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English.

What is the difference between BY and UNTIL? Even advanced English learners make mistakes with these 2 small words!
First, take the QUIZ
and then the Audio Lesson below to make sure you avoid mistakes. 

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 BY and UNTIL - what is the difference?

.By Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com

 

If you make mistakes with these 2 little words - you are not alone! Many English learners confuse BY and UNTIL. So make sure you learn this topic well! The rule is this:

.

BY

UNTIL

Something happens

BY a point in time

BY means

AT OR BEFORE

NOT LATER THAN

Something continues

UNTIL a point in time

UNTIL means

UP TO

UP TO THE TIME THAT



Take a look at these sentences.

.

1. a) I will finish it by 5 pm. (= no later than 5 pm)

1  b) I will be working on it until 5 pm. (= up to 5 pm, and then I will stop.)

 

2 a) I will arrive by Friday afternoon. (= on Friday afternoon or earlier)

2 b) I will be travelling until Friday afternoon. (= I will stop travelling on Friday afternoon)

 

As you can see, both BY and UNTIL are followed by a point in time (in the sentences above, these points in time are five o’clock and Friday afternoon.)

 

So, what is the difference between these sentences?

.

In each sentence (a), with BY,  the focus is on the end of the process. In other words, the focus is on the result.

In sentence (1a), this focus is on finishing the work, and in sentence (2a) the focus is on arriving.

.

In each sentence (b), with UNTIL,  the focus is on the process itself, not the end result. The focus is on the thing that continues up to a point in time.

So, in sentence (1b), the focus is on working on it and in sentence (2b) the focus is on travelling.

 

Let’s look at some more examples:

.

1. I will be available to help you by Monday. (note: this means ‘ I will be available to start helping you on Monday or before Monday, but at the moment I don’t know exactly when I will become available.’ This sentence gives no information about when my availability to help will end.)

2. I will be available to help you until Monday. (note: this means  ‘I can help you up to Monday at the latest, but after Monday I can’t help you as I will no longer be available’. So, in this example, my availability to help ends on Monday. ) 

3. I will be on vacation by Friday. ( = My vacation will start on Friday or earlier than that.)

4. I will be on vacation until Friday. ( = My vacation will end on Friday.)

5. By the time he arrived at the station, the train had already left. (= the train had left before he arrived at the station. In this sentence, the point in time is “the time he arrived at the station”.)

6. I stayed at home until the evening, in fact I didn’t go out until 6 pm. (= I left my home at 6 pm.)

7. I have a deadline so I will not stop working until it is finished. (= I will continue working until it is finished.)

8. I won’t get home until dinner time.  (= I will get home at dinner time but not before.)

9. I won’t get home by dinner time.  (= when dinner is served, I will not be at home, because I will not be home at or before dinner time.)

 

10. The films starts at midnight, by which time I will be asleep in bed.(= and by that time I will be asleep in bed.)

 

So, I hope this topic is clearer for you now! Now, think about some sentences using BY and UNTIL that are true to your own life , as this will help you to remember them better.

 If you like this lesson, please share it. Thank you :)

 

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How to use BY and UNTIL in English - Learn The Difference