I would like to know whether "until" can be used interchangeably with "to the extent that" as follows:

  1. Turn the screw until the mark on it disappears.
  2. Turn the screw to the extent that the mark on it disappears.

In my understanding, "until" is used in connection with "time" rather than "degree", so the first sentence looks strange to me.

1 Answer 1


This example does refer to time, because turning a screw is a continuous process that does not happen instantaneously. "Until" indicates when to stop turning the screw.

"Until" cannot be used like "to the extent that" in cases that do not refer to actions that vary in ways other than duration. For example, one could say

Cut the rope to the extent that it is long enough to reach the ground.

"Until" would not make sense here, because cutting rope for a longer period of time does not affect the size of the rope. However, we could use "where" instead, because the location of cutting does affect the size.

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