The performer died after falling ill on stage. This was thought by the audience to be a part of the act, until emergency services were called in, the audience was evacuated, and he was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.

Is until the same as the coordinating conjunction but, connecting a group of independent clauses. It is not prepositional in use, unlike the below example which is viewed as independent?

I will keep the donations until your 18th birthday, and until such time I will keep the contents secure.

  • "Until" is a preposition. Here, it has a coordination of three complements, as bracketed: "until [emergency services were called in"], the audience was evacuated] and [he was declared dead ...]. The PP functions a temporal adjunct (adverbial).
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


In until such time, until is a preposition, the whole prepositional phrase being adverbial in meaning.

In until emergency services were called in, until is a subordinating conjunction. The subordinate clause (which actually is all of "until emergency services were called in, the audience was evacuated, and he was declared dead at the scene by paramedics") is also adverbial in meaning.

I can't see any parallel with but, which (as you say) is a coordinating conjunction.

The syntax is a little strained: at first reading I though the subordinate clause went only to "called in", and though the remainder a run-on sentence. But it does work, even if it is not immediately clear.

  • Surely it's better to treat "until" solely as a preposition, since there's no basis for assigning it to different categories according as it takes an NP or a clause as complement.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 6:31
  • @BillJ: I haven't really caught up with the grammatical theories which allow a preposition to govern anything but a NP.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 9:45
  • It's discussed in depth in H&P's award-winning Cambridge Grammar if you have access to it. They make a very convincing case for reanalysing many adverbs and conjunctions as prepositions. There's some stuff on the 'Net, e.g. link
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 10:13
  • @BillJ: I've been trying to decide whether I want CGEL enough to actually buy it. Thanks.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 10:22
  • 1
    All I can say is that you won't regret it. I think you'll find the range and depth quite staggering. Everyone who has read it says it's the best grammar ever written, and of course Rodney Huddleston is widely acknowledged as the finest grammarian of English alive today. The rub is that it's not cheap. I paid £150 for my copy six years ago, and I believe it's about £200 now or £160 ish s/h.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 11:15

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