I am struggling a bit with expressions determining points in time and duration. Could you please explain to me whether I got it right? I am using "until" on purpose, I do know I could say it in a different way.

  • You can stay until next year. Does this mean the next calendar year? I.e. if I say in December, does it mean they can stay just for another month?

    You can stay until a week later. Is this even correct? In this case, does it mean they can stay another 7 days?

    He did not talk to me until a year later. I would think here I express that he talked to me again after more than 365 days.

    He did not talk to me until the next year. Here I would say he talked to me in the next calendar year, which could be in a few days (in December).


  • Note that later in such contexts always means after that time - where that "reference time" must be established by context - but although it could be any time in the past or future, we don't use [time-span] later when the reference time is now (time of speaking). So your second example would only be valid if a reference time has been established: Your room is booked until next Monday, but you can stay until a week later. If the reference time is actually "now", you might say You can stay for another week, for example (or ...another week from now). Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 17:10
  • Consider He arrived on Christmas Day, but he didn't talk to me until the next year. If that next conversation actually took place on New Year's Day, any native speaker would consider it a facetious usage. In fact, I'd say the usage gets progressively more "inappropriate" the more the span between the two times drops below 6 months - until it's just a matter of weeks/days later, where it starts to switch increasingly from "clumsy" to "witty" (the opposite of from the sublime to the ridiculous). Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


Saying 'You can stay until next year' in December would be either a slightly rude way of saying, 'leave in a month', or a reasonable way of saying, 'leave sometime during the next calendar year.'

'You can stay until a week later' Not a phrase I'd use. It doesn't make sense by itself. 'You can stay for a week' means you can stay for approximately 7 days.

'He did not talk to me until a year later' indicates that no conversation took place for approximately 365 days since the time in question. Your example doesn't include the context, so it's unclear when the follow up conversation took place. It would have to include something to set the starting point of this 365 day gap in conversation. For example, "In May 2008, I called him a jerk. He did not talk to me until a year later." would suggest they spoke again in May 2009.

'He did not talk to me until the next year.' As in the first example, 'the next year' refers to the next calendar year. As in the previous example, it depends on when they say it.

If they say, "In May 2008, I called him a jerk. He did not talk to me until the next year." That suggests they may have talked as early as January 2009. Most likely it means sometime between January and April 2009. Anything longer than that, but still in 2009, would be 'for a year' or 'for more than a year'.

Typically, you wouldn't use this phrase for time periods of less than a month or two. Saying this in December to mean 'a few days' would be pedantic. That said, it's common to hear people jokingly say, 'see you next year' in late December if they don't expect to see the other person before the New Year. Personally, I'd avoid that usage.

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