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To some extent I know the difference between "before" and "until" as it is in until VS. before

I wrote:

For any given word, the program records the user’s choices during the test. It records the letters that they try before entering the correct letter.

If I want to use "until", can I just replace "before" or I must write it as:

For any given word, the program records the user’s choices during the test. It records the letters that they try until they enter the correct letter.

Anyway, how can I use until in this sentence?

  • "before entering", "before they enter", "until entering", and "until they enter" are all fine in this sentence. I would note that saying entering is a bit ambiguous, as it could be interpreted as referring to it (i.e., the program) instead of they (i.e. the user). – Era Feb 29 '16 at 15:56
  • before entering seems to refer to a series of events, while until they enter seems to refer to points in time. – user3169 Feb 29 '16 at 17:47
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    Neither is clear. Does it stop recording after the first accurate keystroke? Probably not. If I spelled "cat" k-c-a-d-t it probably records both the "k" and the "d". Is that right? So why not simply "The software records all incorrect keystrokes as the user attempts to spell a word." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 29 '16 at 19:24
  • @TRomano you are right, it records both "k" and "d". Maybe I should say "before entering a letter" or "before entering each letter". The program saves them so that the relation between the failed attempts for each letter is recoverable. like (k)ca(d)t, where k is tried before c and d before t. – Ahmad Mar 2 '16 at 10:25
  • Those participles would be considered "dangling". The program isn't doing the entering. I think you could find a simpler way: The program captures keystrokes as the user is spelling a word, so that ... – Tᴚoɯɐuo Mar 2 '16 at 11:35
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To answer your question, you may use until in place of before without changing the rest of the sentence.

TRomano's and Era's comments are correct, though, in that this still leaves the statement ambiguous. If you wanted to be explicit, I might suggest the following edits (in bold italic).

For every given word, the program records all user input during the test; thus it records all letters that they try until entering each correct letter.

This also makes the use of until a much better choice than before, as until points toward the interval of time that abruptly ends with each "correct letter."

  • I hope this is what you were looking for, Ahmad. If not, further clarification would allow further assistance. – Omnidisciplinarianist Mar 2 '16 at 23:18

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