Till means upto a certain time limit and until means "till not".

Example 1:

I can not go till I finish my homework.

Example 2:

I can not go until I finish my homework.

I cannot differentiate between these two and both seems to me having correct meaning. But as until is "till not". This "not" should have an effect which I am missing. Please help me clearing the confusion.

  • 1
    Where did you get that hopelessly misleading "definition" in your first line? It not only implies (incorrectly) that the two words have different meanings. By saying that until = till not it effectively implies they have opposite meanings. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 20:26
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers: The responsibility goes to a childrens' book which I had read in my childhood. Since then I had known "Until" means "Till not" until yesterday I got answers here (!!) and I thought the meaning of "until" is too basic to search in a dictionary site which now I feel was a wrong decision of mine.
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 4:26
  • The word till, is also used to refer to, the device for working out and handling payments in a business, like a shop. This is the meaning in the English of England and the rest of the UK. What is called a "cash register" in American English. See: ldoceonline.com/dictionary/till_2
    – Tristan
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 10:44
  • 1
    And then, of course, there is the other variant, 'til: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/til
    – nxx
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 11:58

3 Answers 3


Till and Until mean the same thing, till however is the informal version, until is deemed formal. Your definition should read "not till", not "till not".

"You cannot leave until you finish your homework" or "you cannot leave till you finish your homework", both mean the same thing.

Until would generally be used at the beginning of a sentence e.g. Until you finish your homework, you cannot leave.

It is commonly assumed that till is an abbreviated form of until, till is in fact the earlier form. Apparently formed by the addition of Old Norse "und ‘as far as’ several hundred years after the date of the first records for till.

  • 3
    "Till" was not considered informal till quite recently. This perception is almost certainly because of the wrong assumption you mention (that it's an abbreviation). For a parallel example, consider "to" and "unto": they mean much the same, but here it's the "un-" form that fell out of fashion. Commented May 15, 2014 at 12:41

Until means exactly the same thing as till; it is not UN- + TILL.

See https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/6989/what-is-the-difference-between-till-and-until for details, but essentially, they are synonyms, not antonyms.


both of them are used as " preposition " and " conjunction",the difference can be

that "till" is informal and "until" is formal .

  • I wouldn't consider "until" to be formal. I use it all the time in everyday speech. The word "till" is definitely informal, though.
    – godel9
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 14:11
  • not true that "till" is informal. this is a common misconception. see Hellion's answer.
    – hunter
    Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 5:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .