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In the following sentences as both 'up to' and 'until' refer to a period of time, why they don't make sense (according to the this link: Do these sentences in each set mean the same or not? )

  • I can’t wait for you until one week.
  • I can’t wait for you up to one week.
  • I can’t wait for you up to 8 p.m.

While the following sentence works properly:

  • I can’t wait for you until 8 p.m.” is idiomatic?
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The last one is really saying "I can't wait until 8pm for you." The other ones don't work in this way. – Tyler James Young Apr 20 '14 at 6:31
@TylerJamesYoung It really was not difficult to understand the fact that "until" works in this specific sentence, but "up to" doesn't!!! I need a rule or something reliable that whenever I need to choose one of these two prepositions be able to do that. How you can distinguish them? What do they mean to you? Could you please give me some examples and explain why and where I ave to use each one? You see, I can use both of them according to the definition in my dictionary and even my text book. It sounds really frustrating for me to realize how these prepositions work. – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 6:37
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I can't wait for you until one week.

This does not work because "one week" is a duration and "until" references a specific time. You can make it work by specifying a starting time:

I can't wait for you until one week from now.

This one:

I can't wait for you up to one week.

is not actually wrong, just a bit clumsy and not something I would expect to hear. An alternative is:

I can't wait for you for a whole week.

This one:

I can't wait for you up to 8pm.

just doesn't sound right. A native speaker would normally use the last:

I can't wait for you until 8pm.

Since this can have two interpretations, it's up to the listener to determine the correct one.

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Thank you very much @boatseller. It was really helpful. :) – A-friend Apr 21 '14 at 5:20

First, don't use the negative for these sentences. You want to indicate that waiting is ok before this time and not after, correct? In that case, you should use:

I can wait until 8pm.

I can wait (for) up to one week.

You can place "for you" after "wait" or at the end of the sentence.

"Up to" is used for a period of time and you can use it with or without "for". For example:

one week
three days
a year

"Until" is used with a point in time. Other examples:


If you wanted to indicate that you were very excited for something to happen and that you didn't want to wait for it to happen, then you could use the negative form "I can't wait", but I'm guessing that this isn't the meaning you want here.

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it was a really informative post from you. Thank you. But please let me ask you another questions in this respect: I can wait until 8pm. --> can I say "I can wait up to 8pm." either or it sounds incorrect because of the reasons you mentioned above? – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 8:44
We don't usually say "up to" with a point in time. There are situations where it's possible to say "up to" with a point in time, but that puts emphasis on the amount of time you're waiting rather than the deadline of 8pm. It's a much more advanced idea so I suggest not using it until you see more real-world examples. Just use "until 8pm" because that is much more common. – Alium Britt Apr 20 '14 at 8:55
Accordingly do I guess right in the following example: We didn't celebrate Halloween in Germany up to a few years ago. --> I think here "until" doesn't work, because we are referring to a span of time in past. I really would be thankful if you answer this question too @AliumBritt. – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 11:40
Actually, you can use "until" - remember that "a few years ago" is a point in time, not a period of time. If you said "a few years" without "ago", then it would be a period of time. You can also say "up until" in this sentence ("We didn't celebrate Halloween in Germany up until a few years ago."), and in that case "up" gives "until" more emphasis, but is not the same as "up to". – Alium Britt Apr 20 '14 at 12:02

Basically you use up to with a period of time, and until leading up to a point in time.

until 8PM

the time between now and 8PM

up to one week

any length of time less than or equal to one week.

However, can't wait usage is a bit illogical in these examples, but I am not saying its wrong. You could say:

I will wait for you until 8PM.


I will wait for you (for) up to one week.

Not sure of the reason offhand but using "for" sounds better here. The word "for" is commonly used to indicate periods of time. You can use this phrase with or without "for".

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Thanks again for being of help @user3169 So "I will wait for you until 8PM" = ??? = "I will wait for you up to one week."? (Do they mean the same?) – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 7:08
I think due to that mysterious reason, "I will not wait for you until 8PM." and "I will not wait for you up to one week." will not sound natural too. Did I guess right? – A-friend Apr 20 '14 at 7:33
@A-friend Well, "I will not wait for you until 8PM." really means ""I will wait for you after 8PM.", which is easier to understand. As for "I will not wait for you up to one week.", if you say "I will wait for you..." its hard to say what comes next. – user3169 Apr 20 '14 at 17:38

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