At first I wanted to simply ask which form ( 'til, til, 'till or till) was correct since I've come across all of them, but then I found this neat explanation in Oxford and now my questions have drifted more towards the actual use: how do YOU, native speakers, use the abbreviations? Are the distinctions in the definition obvious to you? Is any of the options more acceptable than the other? I'm particularly interested in 'till, which seems to be a weird mix of till and until. Does it strike you as odd or has it become as acceptable as till or 'til?Usage
In most contexts till and until have the same meaning and are interchangeable. The main difference is that till is generally considered to be the more informal of the two, and occurs less frequently than until in writing. Until also tends to be the natural choice at the beginning of a sentence: until very recently, there was still a chance of rescuing the situation.
Interestingly, while it is commonly assumed that till is an abbreviated form of until (the spellings ‘till and ’ til reflect this), till is in fact the earlier form. Until appears to have been formed by the addition of Old Norse und ‘as far as’ several hundred years after the date of the first records for till.
Source: online Oxford dictionaries
A curious detail - typing in 'til in Longman dictionary led me straight to till/ til/ until while trying the same with Oxford took me nowhere, it didn't refer me to any entry.
bhai, you were so fast to answer you even managed to keep my 'lead' mistake before I got to correct it a moment later.
'till is not a correct form. Until, 'til, and till are correct.
I would use "until" in formal writing, "till" in less formal situations.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) Here in the United States, most teachers say that there are
two words: until and till.
(2) Most teachers say that 'til is "incorrect." Perhaps some people think
that 'til is a clipped form (shortened form) of until. Although one will often
see this in signs ("We are open 'til 10 p.m."), many American teachers
will be most upset if you use that form. If you do not want to use until,
just use till. Most American books say that those are two separate
words, with until being the most formal.
(3) And never, ever write 'till. One writer on good English calls it
And I take it you got the point about "common" vs. "mutual" from him, too. In The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, he writes:
"What is mutual is reciprocal <the partners' mutual respect>. What is common is shared <the parents' common love for their child>. Two people may have a common friend, but not strictly speaking a mutual friend."
[QUOTE=TheParser;729337](1) Here in the United States, most teachers say that there are two words: until and till.So do many in the United Kingdom, including me.Mr Garner's opinions on the non-acceptability of 'our mutual friend' sound rather dated to me. The difference may still be important to lawyers, but not to most speakers of BrE. The ways in which many words are used change over time; 'mutual' is one of those words.... it was our friend in common (NOT: "mutual friend"): the one and only BRYAN A. GARNER.
I can't imagine why anybody would want to write "till", unless they are writing about agriculture "till the soil" or about the till (cash register) in a shop. Why not write "until" in most situations, reserving the rather poetic (to my mind) 'til for literary/poetic efforts.