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The book was so interesting that he had read it for three hours __________ he realized it.

A. before B. until

Which one would you choose?

Our teacher said the answer was "before". I can't understand why "until" is wrong here.

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  • until requires an ending time (from the speakers point of view). "He stood there for 1 hour. Then (an hour later...) he gave up and went home." before just indicates a time order forevents.
    – user3169
    Oct 28 '18 at 5:29
  • @user3169 Until does not require an end time. It simply requires something. *He read until his eye's bled." There's no time there at all, just an event. Oct 28 '18 at 14:12
  • "Until vs. Before" - you may want to read this post as well.
    – Victor B.
    Jul 24 at 15:20
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The book was so interesting that he had read it for three hours __________ he realized it.

A. before B. until

"Before" is the correct answer. I think the meaning is more clear after replacing "it" with what the reader actually realized. "He had read it for three hours before he realized how much time had passed." The sentence means that three hours passed between the time he started reading and the time at which he noticed how long he had been reading. We do not know whether he then continued to read the book. If we said "until he realized it", there is an implication that he stopped reading at that point.

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