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Till vs. Until: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 18, 2023
"Till" and "until" are both prepositions meaning up to the point in time or the event mentioned, but "till" is older and more informal than "until."

Key Differences

"Till" is a preposition that signifies continuation up to a point in time or event. It is often considered more informal and is used in everyday, casual speech and writing. "Until" serves the same purpose, indicating the continuation of an action or condition up to a certain point. However, "until" is more formal and is commonly found in written and formal spoken English. Both words are interchangeable in most contexts.
The word "till" has been in the English language longer than "until," originating from the Old English "til." Despite its older origins, it's often mistakenly thought to be an abbreviation of "until," which is not the case. "Until" emerged later, believed to have developed from the combination of "till" and the Old Norse "und" (up to). Both convey the same temporal concept but have different historical roots.
In usage, "till" is more likely to appear in informal dialogues and less formal writing. It fits well in conversational contexts and is often used in speech. "Until" is preferred in more formal writing and official documents. It tends to give sentences a slightly more formal tone than "till," but the meaning conveyed by both is the same.
Interestingly, "till" is sometimes perceived as less formal or less correct than "until," but this is a misconception. Both are perfectly correct and can be used in formal writing, although "until" might be the more prudent choice in very formal or official contexts. They are functionally interchangeable, and the choice between them often comes down to style or personal preference.
"Till" and "until" are prepositions that indicate up to what point in time an action or situation will continue. "Till" is older and more informal, while "until" is a bit more formal and common in written English. Their meanings are identical, and they can often be used interchangeably without altering the sentence's meaning.

Comparison Chart


More informal.
More formal.


Common in everyday speech and informal writing.
Preferred in formal writing and speech.

Historical Origin

Older, from Old English "til."
Developed later, from "till" and Old Norse "und."


Sometimes incorrectly seen as less correct.
Often perceived as more correct or formal.


Indicates continuation to a point in time.
Same as "till," showing continuation to a time/event.

Till and Until Definitions


It is used to denote the duration up to a specific time.
She studied till midnight.


Until functions as a preposition and a conjunction.
The team will continue to practice until they perfect the routine.


Till can indicate a condition lasting up to a certain event.
Keep the door closed till everyone arrives.


Until marks the end point of an action or condition.
He didn't realize it was late until the clock struck twelve.


Till is a conjunction as well as a preposition.
I won't stop till I succeed.


Until means continuing to a specified time or event.
Stay here until I get back.


It's often used in informal contexts.
I can't come out till I finish my chores.


It is used in formal writing and speaking.
The office remains closed until further notice.


Till means up to the point in time or event mentioned.
Wait here till I return.


Up to the time of
We danced until dawn.


Before (a specified time)
She can't leave until Friday.


(Scots) Unto; to.


Up to the time that
We walked until it got dark.


You cannot leave until your work is finished.


To the point or extent that
I talked until I was hoarse. See Usage Note at till2.


Up to the time of (something happening).
If you can wait until after my meeting with her, we'll talk then.


Up to (a certain place)


Before (a time).


(obsolete) To; physically towards.


Up to the time that (a condition becomes true).


Before (a condition becoming true).


To; unto; towards; - used of material objects.
Taverners until them told the same.
He roused himself full blithe, and hastened them until.


To; up to; till; before; - used of time; as, he staid until evening; he will not come back until the end of the month.
He and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity.


It is often preferred in official or academic contexts.
The application process is open until the end of the month.


Do till and until have the same meaning?

Yes, both indicate continuation up to a specific point in time or event.

Can till be used in formal writing?

Yes, though until is often preferred in very formal contexts.

Is until more correct than till?

No, both are equally correct; the choice depends on formality and preference.

Is till an abbreviation of until?

No, till is not an abbreviation; it's actually the older word.

Can till be used in academic writing?

Yes, but until may be preferable depending on the style guide.

Are there contexts where till should not be used?

In very formal or official documents, until might be more appropriate.

Can till and until be used at the beginning of a clause?

Yes, they can both introduce dependent clauses.

Are till and until interchangeable?

Yes, they can be used interchangeably without changing the meaning.

Is the use of till informal?

It's considered more informal than until, but it's not incorrect.

Is till used more in spoken language?

Yes, till is more common in everyday speech.

Can I start a sentence with till or until?

Yes, both can start a sentence when used as conjunctions.

Is there a difference in pronunciation between till and until?

No, their pronunciation is straightforward and similar.

Do till and until have different connotations?

No, their connotations are the same; the difference lies in formality.

Can until be shortened to 'til?

'Til is often used informally, but it's not a standard contraction of until.

Are there any exceptions to using till and until interchangeably?

No major exceptions; their interchangeability is quite consistent.

Can till be replaced with until in poetry?

Yes, but poets may choose one over the other for rhythm or rhyme.

Should I avoid using till in business communication?

It's not necessary to avoid till, but until may be more suitable for formal business communication.

Do till and until have different origins?

Yes, till comes from Old English, while until combines till with Old Norse influences.

Does the usage of till vary by region?

Yes, its usage can vary, with some regions preferring until.

Is until a newer word than till?

Yes, until developed later than till.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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