In the following sentence:
How long before the light of stars fades?
...could I also use:
How long until the light of stars fades?
Are they interchangeable or is there an essential difference in meaning?
And would I need 'will' in either of these sentences?
Depending on what you are asking (star light fading at dawn? star light fading out forever?), to be more natural, you might say "How long will it be before/until the light of stars fade?"
I'm not a teacher, but have used the language at work and home for many years...
It's part of a poem, where I have the freedom to be a little less 'natural'. ;)
Thanks. As I said above, it's part of poem, and I don't have room for 'will it be' in that part of the sentence (the line of the poem).
If you weren't writing a poem where, as you say, you can write pretty much what you want, I would say it should be written:
How long until the starlight fades?
How long until the light of the stars fades?
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
Can you appreciate, Balkenende, that it would have been more helpful for us to know that you were writing a poem in message #1 rather than #4?