Is there any difference, whether in terms of usage or meaning between the two? For instance: How long before/ till the alarm goes off? How long till/ before you get here? How long before/ till this term ends?

up vote 1 down vote accepted

To me (native American English speaker) they have the same meaning, but "before" sounds perhaps regional or outdated. It's totally grammatical and comprehensible, but I wouldn't expect to hear it often in Seattle.

In general, this construction, as compared to:

When does the term end?

What time do you get here?

has a slight nuance of "I think it's taking too long for the event to occur." If someone asks me:

How long till you get here?

I will probably hear, "I'm tired of waiting for you; why is it taking so long?" But it depends on the context and tone of voice.

Your Answer

 
discard

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

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