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If you say it happened three hours ago, why haven't you contacted us until/before now.

  • Does the sentence have the same meaning no matter which of "until" and "before" I choose?

  • Is one of them more natural than the other in a context like this?

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    I think you need something like: "why haven't you contacted us earlier?"
    – anouk
    Commented Jun 10, 2021 at 19:41
  • Until implies that the condition has now ended, whereas before does not have that implication. Since they have evidently contacted them now (the condition has ended), there is no difference in meaning in this case.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented May 14, 2022 at 15:16

2 Answers 2

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"...why haven't you contacted us before now" sounds more natural to my ear.

If you want to use "until," the following construction works better:

If you say it happened three hours ago, why have you waited until now to contact us?

The word "before" (in the sense of "earlier than" or "sooner than") works as a modifier to the word "now", while "until" indicates a time span ending at a certain point, which when used with the negative construction "why haven't you" tends to be confusing.

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The phrase has been written slightly wrong. Try this

If you say it happened three hours ago, why haven't you contacted us.. until now/before.

The two are now fully interchangeable.


Theoretically the meanings are slightly different but in this instance the use is exactly the same.

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