Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: before or until

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 1,571

    before or until

    I'll try to find you before/until nine o'clock.

    Which is good?

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: before or until

    ...but you have to pick your occasion to know when to use one or the other!

    That's your next task: what's a scenario for each of them?

  1. heidita's Avatar
    Senior Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Spanish
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Europe

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 1,436

    Re: before or until

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    I'll try to find you before/until nine o'clock.

    Which is good?
    Until nine...includes the nine o'clock deadline.

    Before are not waiting until nine.

    • Join Date: Apr 2008
    • Posts: 1,571

    Re: before or until

    It's a stand alone sentence in an exercise. So no context. But I anticipate my students will ask me to comment on these alternate variants. So I need to be armed.

    Using 'before' we usually lay stress on the action itself, while until focuses more on the duration of an action.
    What were you doing before Mother arrived?
    How long did you play the piano? I played the piano until Mother arrived.

    But it looks this distinction isn't applicable here.

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: before or until

    'before' refers to the period of time preceding an event:\
    <............before Mother arrives.....>|(mother has arrived

    'until' refers to a point in time

    So, in your original sentences:
    "I'll try to find you before 9 o'clock."

    The person will look/search in the football crowd, and hopes to find the person some time during the period from when he starts looking, and hopes to find him before 9. If not, and he's having trouble finding him, he will probably keep looking; but it would have been good to have found him before 9 so they could experience pre-match football fever together in the stands, singing and waving; but he still hopes to be there before 9 o'clock itself, which is kick-off time, when the game begins.

    "I'll try to find you until 9 o'clock."

    Here, 9 o'clock is the deadline.
    It's an odd sentence to try to match to a scenario. Are they -(and I'm really stretching it here!) - playing a game of hide and seek, and the person hiding is really good at it!!. So - I'l' hunt for him till 9 o'clock, when my mummy wants me home; so if I haven't find him by 9 o'clock, he might as well come out of wherever he is, because I will be going out the front door: I'm no longer seeking/trying to find him.
    The message is, 9 o'clock is the deadline: game over.

    I have to have my assignment in before 5 p.m. Friday.
    Here, my focus is on the period of time between now and 5p.m. Friday: how much time I still have left before then in which to get my assignment done, and handed in. I could hand it in before that if I want; and if I have trouble writing it, then the pressure might be on: I have to hand it in on Friday and I've only got so much time before then, so I won't be able to go to the party Thursday night - I've got to finish off my assignment in the time left before 5 p.m. Friday.

    The lecturer might say:
    You have until 5 p.m. on Friday.
    His focus is solely on the deadline, the point in time when he expects all assignments to have been handed in.
    Last edited by David L.; 13-Mar-2009 at 12:03.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts