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I encountered a sentence:

we should not read the next ______ we have learned the first one well.

(A) unless (B) until

The answer is (B) until, but why unless is not right here? Is it okay to use unless?

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  • Welcome to ell, jonathan. Both answers are grammatically correct, but until is probably the intended meaning.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 8:24

1 Answer 1

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Don't use unless. The major difference between them is that unless is used for some condition. And, until or till for some point of time/thing.

Compare:

I will not talk to her unless she apologizes for her mistake - a kind of condition

But,

We should not read the next until we have learned the first one well. - a point of time of reading the first one.

Note that you can use both i.e. until and unless in certain conditions.

Reference: BBC

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  • Using unless in the OP's question would be grammatically and semantically correct, but as you have pointed out the meaning would be different. until is probably the intended meaning, but unless is not wrong.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 8:28
  • That's right! @JavaLatte Actually, a hairline difference for non-natives. I've seen many Indians using both to avoid confusion! :)
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 8:32
  • But having learned the first one well could be regarded as a condition for going on to the next. (I agree that until was probably intended.) Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:04

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