Till vs. Until – What’s the Difference?

Despite what many students learn in colleges and universities, brevity is a virtue in writing. Complicated sentences are sometimes necessary (and interesting), but they are harder to read and to understand. If you can state something simply and succinctly, you should do it.

The same principle applies to individual words: long, complicated words are sometimes necessary, but shorter ones are easier to understand and usually make your writing more fluid.

That is why many English words can be abbreviated or shortened into smaller words with the same meaning. Until is only two syllables, but even it can become till in the service of brevity.

What is the Difference Between Till and Until?

In this post, I will compare until vs. till and use each word in a few example sentences. This way, you will be able to learn what they mean and see them in context.

I will also show you a memory tool that will allow you to choose either until or till correctly every time.

When to Use Until

till versus until What does until mean? Until is a preposition. It means up to the point or time mentioned.

The prepositional phrase until the world ends refers to all of the time between now and the end of the world, whenever that might be. Until I get back refers to the time until the speaker returns.

A few more examples,

  • “Just wait until I get my cast off; you’ll be sorry then,” Marcos told his little brother.
  • All hiking paths in the Columbia River Gorge will remain closed until we can be sure that the terrain is safe.
  • The Bavarian Bierhaus in suburban Milwaukee has a pretty strong NFL game-day special: No one pays for beer until the Packers score. –The Chicago Tribune

When to Use Till

definition of until definition of till definitionWhat does till mean? Till also has many meanings. The word can be a noun and a verb, but in this article, I will focus on its use as a shortened form of until.

Till can be used in all the same ways as until, but it is perceived as less formal.

  • I can’t wait till the pizza gets here and we will have something to eat besides potato chips and pretzels.
  • “I will eat pizza till the day I die, and then I want someone to have pizza delivered to my grave so I can eat it in the afterlife,” said Margot.
  • In her video for Till the World Ends, Spears and a group of leather clad dancers take shelter in an underground dance club as meteorites destroy the city above. –The Telegraph

You could substitute until for till in the above sentences without changing their meaning. Till feels slightly more natural to some writers, and is shorter, which can be useful.

When to Use Til

What does til mean? Til is a common misspelling of till when substituted for until. Since until only has one L, we would think that the word would shorten to til.

Unfortunately, we would be wrong. Till is actually an older word; it became until later in its life. Til and its apostrophe-laden cousins ‘til and ‘till are all incorrect.

Trick to Remember the Difference

is till a real wordYou could use either of these forms any time you wanted. They are both correct. Don’t use til or ‘til, though, because they are considered misspellings.

Until is slightly more formal than till, so it might be more appropriate for formal writing, like in the workplace or at university.

Till vs. Until Check: Since till rhymes with will, remember that till will always be correct as a substitute for until.

Summary

Is it till or until? Both of these words can function as prepositions and their meanings are the same.

  • Until means up until the point that is mentioned.
  • Till is a less formal way of saying until.
  • Til, ‘til, and ‘till are all incorrect variations.