0

We have been able reach an agreement, until we find a peaceful solution to the boundary issue.

We are able to reach an agreement, until we find a peaceful solution to the boundary issue.

What is the difference between these two sentences?

  • As an aside: While the use of till would be okay conversationally, I would recommend using until in more formal writing. – J.R. Dec 17 '13 at 10:46
  • @J.R. I disagree. The only thing I would not use in formal writing is 'til. see here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/6989/… – hunter Dec 17 '13 at 13:24
  • 1
    Except that neither "till" nor "until" makes sense in context, as both words indicate that some event will not happen before this other event occurs, but the beginning of the sentence indicates that the first event has already occurred. The writer may have meant "We will NOT be able ... until", or maybe "We were able ... since". – Jay Dec 17 '13 at 17:43
3

I am afraid that both sentences are incorrect. First, it doesn't seem to make any sense unless you negate the main clause (be able to reach an agreement). And, you also need to make the tenses in both clauses agree with each other.

If you want to talk about a "not happen yet" condition, you could say:

We will not be able to reach an agreement, till we find a peaceful solution to the boundary issue.

If you want to talk about something that has just happened, you could say:

We were not able to reach an agreement, till we found a peaceful solution to the boundary issue.

  • 1
    I agree with the overall thrust of your answer, but it's worth noting that the agreement could be an interim agreement. But even in that case, the wording could be greatly improved: We have reached an [interim] agreement until we find a [long-term] peaceful solution. – J.R. Dec 17 '13 at 10:45
  • Your second sentence is unacceptable: have not been able has present reference and cannot be qualified by a past terminus. You have to say We were not able to ... until we found ... – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 17 '13 at 12:08
  • @StoneyB Using were not able to sounds much better. However, I still doubt if such a use of have not been able to is prohibited. I copied such a usage from One-act play: Youth by Thornton Wilder: Gulliver: I have suffered, madam, principally from thirst, until I found this spring here... I wonder if that is an error too. – Damkerng T. Dec 17 '13 at 12:25
  • @DamkerngT. The have suffered is a response to Lady Sibyl's inquiry, "You must have suffered...?" I'd point it differently: "I have suffered, madam--principally from thirst, until I found, &c" – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 17 '13 at 12:51
  • @StoneyB Thank you very much. That cleared my doubt perfectly. – Damkerng T. Dec 17 '13 at 12:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.