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    #1

    Smile until or by

    Hello everybody,

    I hope all of you had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas. I was able to have a good time and relax.

    I have two questions about until/by in the following examples, the first sentence (a) of which is to describe one single completed action each:

    Considering the context and the simple past tense in the first sentence of each example, is only 'by' possible?

    Can I use the simple past tense in the second sentence (b) of each example instead of the past continous without much difference in meaning if the action is not finished completely?

    1a) Yesterday, I cleaned my room until/by 7 pm.
    1b) Yesterday, I was cleaning my room until 7 pm.

    2a) Yesterday, I washed my car until my wife came home/by the time my wife came home.
    2b) Yesterday, I was washing my car until my wife came home.

    3a) Yesterday, I drank a whole sixpack of beer until/by midnight.
    3b) Yesterday, I was drinking a sixpack of beer until midnight.

    Thank you for your answers and to all of you a happy new year!

    Greetings from Bavaria

    Joern
    Last edited by Joern Matthias; 27-Dec-2013 at 18:37.

  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    1a) Yesterday I had cleaned my room by 7 p.m.
    1b) Yesterday, I had been cleaning my room until 7 pm.

    2a) Yesterday, I had washed my car by the time my wife came home.
    2b) Yesterday, I had been washing my car until my wife came home.

    3a) Yesterday, I had drunk a whole sixpack of beer by midnight.
    3b) Yesterday, I had been drinking a sixpack of beer until midnight.
    I am also investigating this aspect and by now I have come to the conclusion that the past continuous is not to be used "on its own". It's a tense which mainly describes the background events while the main events are usually clear from the context and are expressed by means of the past simple. In your sentences I would have used the past perfect and the past perfect continuous to show that the action had been finished by the time mentioned. My suggestions are in the quote above.
    I may be wrong, but I think it's all about the "quality" of the preposition. E.g. the preposition by (plus some particular time) demands that the verb describing the previous action should be in the past perfect.
    In 1a) the action had been completed by 7, so the wife didn't see him washing his car while in 1b she might have come in to see him washing it.
    For 2a, 2b, 3a, and 3b my explanation is the same (correspondingly).
    I think one can't use until in 1a, 2a, and 3a the way you wrote them.
    But I am also eager to see what the native speakers will say about it.
    Last edited by englishhobby; 28-Dec-2013 at 21:35.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    Hello everybody,

    I hope all of you had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas. I was able to have a good time and relax.

    I have two questions about until/by in the following examples, the first sentence (a) of which is to describe one single completed action each:

    Considering the context and the simple past tense in the first sentence of each example, is only 'by' possible?

    Can I use the simple past tense in the second sentence (b) of each example instead of the past continous without much difference in meaning if the action is not finished completely?

    1a) Yesterday, I cleaned my room until/by 7 pm.
    1b) Yesterday, I was cleaning my room until 7 pm.

    2a) Yesterday, I washed my car until my wife came home/by the time my wife came home.
    2b) Yesterday, I was washing my car until my wife came home.

    3a) Yesterday, I drank a whole sixpack of beer until/by midnight.
    3b) Yesterday, I was drinking a sixpack of beer until midnight.

    Thank you for your answers and to all of you a happy new year!

    Greetings from Bavaria

    Joern
    1a) Yesterday, I cleaned my room until/by 7 pm. I had cleaned my room by 7pm. "I cleaned my room until 7pm" is possible.
    1b) Yesterday, I was cleaning my room until 7 pm. OK.

    2a) Yesterday, I washed my car until my wife came home/by the time my wife came home. I had washed my car by the time... or I washed my car until...
    2b) Yesterday, I was washing my car until my wife came home. OK

    3a) Yesterday, I drank a whole sixpack of beer until/by midnight. "had drunk by"
    3b) Yesterday, I was drinking a sixpack of beer until midnight.

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    #4

    Re: until or by

    Thank you very much for your help.

    What about these examples just for the sake of getting the hang of it?

    4a) Yesterday, I had eaten a soup by 7 pm.
    4b) Yesterday, I ate a soup until 7 pm.
    4c) Yesterday, I was eating a soup until 7 pm.

    5a) Yesterday, I had repaired my car by noon.
    5b) Yesterday, I repaired my car until noon.
    5c) Yesterday, I was repairing my car until noon.
    Last edited by Joern Matthias; 28-Dec-2013 at 00:12.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    Thank you very much for your help.

    What about these examples just for the sake of getting the hang of it?

    4a) Yesterday, I had eaten a soup by 7 pm.
    4b) Yesterday, I ate a soup until 7 pm.
    4c) Yesterday, I was eating a soup until 7 pm.

    5a) Yesterday, I had repaired my car by noon.
    5b) Yesterday, I repaired my car until noon.
    5c) Yesterday, I was repairing my car until noon.
    What you need to understand about 4b, 4c, 5b and 5c is that they all mean that you were continuously doing the stated activity from the time you got up yesterday until the time stated. Is it very likely that you started eating a bowl of soup when you got up and you were still eating it at 7pm? Note that we don't usually "eat a soup". We either "eat soup" or "eat a bowl of soup". It is possible, however, that you started repairing your car early in the morning and that you continued to repair it until noon. Repairing a car is something that can take several hours. Eating a bowl of soup is not.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: until or by

    Thank you very much. No, I do not have such a superbowl in my household.

    Are 4b, 4c, 5b and 5c correct or grammatical?
    Last edited by Joern Matthias; 28-Dec-2013 at 01:30.

  4. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    Thank you very much. No, I do not have such a superbowl in my household.

    Are 4b, 4c, 5b and 5c correct or grammatical?
    4b and 4c are not correct.

  5. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by Joern Matthias View Post
    5b) Yesterday, I repaired my car until noon.
    5c) Yesterday, I was repairing my car until noon.
    So, my guessing about the past perfect continuous was wrong...

    And what's the difference in the meaning between 5b and 5c?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  6. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    So, my guessing about the past perfect continuous was wrong...

    And what's the difference in the meaning between 5b and 5c?
    There is not any real difference in meaning.

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    #10

    Re: until or by

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    So, my guessing about the past perfect continuous was wrong...

    And what's the difference in the meaning between 5b and 5c?
    5c) just places more emphasis on the process of 'repairing my car'.

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