A: So when did he let you know he was dating your ex?

B: He didn't really. Not until recently.

Is 'not until' correct and idiomatic here? (if I intend it to mean that the guy dating the ex didn't tell B for a long time, but now has recently)

I have consulted a dictionary but am still not completely certain if it can be used in my context.

  • 1
    Try googling it: not until recently
    – Lambie
    Jan 25, 2022 at 15:04
  • Have Googled it but couldn't find any completely similar examples. That's why I asked the question, even though I am/was pretty sure that it's correct. Jan 25, 2022 at 16:00
  • Well, you are right - it is correct. Jan 25, 2022 at 16:22
  • You've already included the "negating" element in preceding didn't. Note that Not until recently isn't really a "sentence" - it's just a sequence of words qualifying what came before. The entire utterance would be more traditionally "grammatical" as just He didn't really, until recently (where that second adverbial element could just as well be moved to the front, rather than after the primary assertion He didn't with the first adverbial element really). The implication of that is you should think of until recently as a "component", not not until. Jan 25, 2022 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


Yes, “not until” is used to emphasize that an event does not occur prior to a certain point in time.

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