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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Serbian
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      • Serbia
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      • Serbia

    • Join Date: Sep 2015
    • Posts: 6

    Before/ Until


    I have read previous posts regarding the use of before and until, and the explanation that usage depends whether it is a verb indicating state action or process. Still, I am having trouble applying these rules on the following example:
    Several years passed until/before they met again.

    I wanted to kindly ask you for the explanation for this example.
    Thank you in advance for all your help.



    • Member Info
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    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 6,332

    Re: Before/ Until

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Aleksandra:

    1. I was wondering whether you had checked Michael Swan's book. *

    He feels that either word "can be used to say how far away a future event is."

    His two examples are:

    a. "It'll be ages until/before we meet again."
    b. There's only six weeks left until/before Christmas."

    2. I also found a fascinating idea from someone on the Web. **

    a. That netizen gave two examples.

    i. "He should be in [the] hospital for at least three weeks before he is allowed to go home."

    (a) The netizen claims that if there is a time reference (such as "three weeks"), native speakers often prefer "before."

    ii. "He should be in [the] hospital until he is allowed to go home." (There is no time reference.)

    b. Since your sentence has a time reference, maybe ....

    c. The netizen admits that native speakers do not always follow this "rule."

    3. Like you, I am waiting for a very strict teacher to tell me which word is more appropriate (and why) in a sentence such as "Twenty-five years went by ____ they finally met again."

    CREDITS:* I have the 1995 edition of Mr. Swan's Practical English Usage. His explanation is found in entry (NOT page) 575.7. / ** That netizen's user name is komountain, who posted on a grammar helpline called englishforums.


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