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Friday, March 4, 2016

Can I use "til" or "till" instead of "until"? Which one is correct?

English is a strange language. Words are easily confused and their meanings aren’t always intuitive. It looks as though “til” is short for “until” and “till” is an entirely separate word, but that’s not exactly the case.

“Till” does have a few different meanings. It can refer to a supply of money or the act of cultivating land. It can also be used interchangeably with “until.” In fact, all three are correct. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “till” developed from the Old English “til.” The “un-” (meaning “up to”) in “until” was added later. In the 18th century, “’till” was the trendy spelling, as though the word were an abbreviation of “until” and not a word in its own right.

Anyone looking to further their understanding of English grammar is welcome to check out Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, Mary Norris’s Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, or Michael Strumpf and Auriel Douglas’s The Grammar Bible. All of these books are available for borrowing at the Newton Falls Public Library.

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