I read that sentences that begin with "Not Until" have the following structure.

Not until [1st clause: subject + auxiliary verb...] [2nd clause: auxiliary verb + subject...].

Of all examples I read, they are all events in the past, like

Not until that evening was she able to recover her self-control.

which is synonymous with

Until that evening, she was not able to recover her self-control.

So my question is, can we use "Not until" for an event that hasn't happened yet? For example,

Not until she comes home will I have the dinner.

which in my opinion has the same meaning as

I won't have the dinner until she comes home/ Until she comes home, I won't have the dinner.

2 Answers 2


Yes, you are absolutely correct. You can use the "Not until" structure for both future and present tenses:

Not until she comes home will I have my dinner. [future event]

Not until she comes home do I have my dinner. [present]

The latter sentence implies that she is coming home right now and that this is a habitual act (eating dinner when she comes home).

  • Yes, like I mentioned, it implies a habitual act. Something similar to: "Every day when she comes home I have my dinner."
    – Ringo
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 6:08

It is correct, since "not until" has the meaning of "not before a particular time or event".

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