Posted by: Jack Henry | April 25, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Until

Dear Editrix,

Once of my biggest pet peeves is the usage of the word till in place of until. While I know The Grammarist tells us that this is completely acceptable usage, seeing this substitution in writing such as documentation or written correspondence is like nails on a chalkboard to me. While I don’t have an issue with this usage verbally, it feels uneducated and ignorant to me when used in writing. I always thought that till is what you do to the dirt before you plant. Could you please tell us more about this so that I will know if I’m the lone ignorant one?

Best regards,

Banging Head On Wall

Dear Head-Banger,

A few years ago, this topic came up because of my own misunderstanding. I’d grown up thinking that ‘til was a shortened version of until. I looked up these words and I was shocked and appalled to find out that I was sorely mistaken. Here are some tips I learned:

· According to some dictionaries, ‘til is not an acceptable shortened form of till or until.

· If you want to use a shortened version of until, till is acceptable.

· Till has been around longer than until, but both mean “before that time” or “up to that time.”

· Use until if you want to avoid arguments or controversy.

So, till doesn’t just mean moving that soil to prepare for the seeds, but you are completely safe with using until as your go-to word. As far as the sound of the nails on the chalkboard, I recommend earmuffs.


Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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