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The sentence "I haven't received xxx until now!" is a common construction I see in forums but although I understand those posters wanted to express their anxieties (based on the context in the posts) that xxx has not arrived even at the point of posting, I believe the construction actually means xxx has finally arrived at the point of posting...

How do you explain the true meaning of that construction or what do you think is a better way to express what those posters truly wanted to say (by including the time element "now")?

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    Your reading of the sentence, "I only just received xxx", is correct. The ordinary way of expressing what is (presumably) intended is "I still haven't received xxx". – StoneyB Jan 14 '15 at 12:09
  • I think both of the meanings of the sentences you suggested are true, based on where the writer's emphasis is. This makes "I haven't received xxx until now!" a vague statement, and that's why Stoney has offered better sentences. – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Jan 14 '15 at 12:37
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The sentence is proclaiming that the event has only just happened, ie very recently. It is also implied that it has not happened previously (or at least within the contextual timeframe of the discussion)

More specifically, it's usually stating that the event was expected to happen earlier. This would be the main differentiation. Consider

"Something which has only just happened"

As opposed to

"Something which has only just happened, having not occurred previously (perhaps despite the fact it should have happened previously)"


It's very common but fairly informal, and would usually be used when either making a complaint

"This should have been cleaned every day last week and hasn't until now!"

Or when making an excuse which is also a complaint (ie passing the blame to another)

"Of course I haven't finished that report, I haven't been able to get the numbers from "the customer until now!

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Although the use of until now appears redundant and unnecessary, the phrase is apparently used so often that it is listed in a reputable dictionary.

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  • I'm not convinced that "Until now" truly is redundant in every circumstance. It can be used for emphasis, but also to add detail/context. – Jon Story Jan 15 '15 at 9:26

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