Is there "not...till"? Does its meaning equal to "not...until"?


Is there "not...till"? Does its meaning equal to "not...until"? Does the sentence "A body at rest will not move till a force is exerted on it" sound natural?


Posted 2014-08-02T15:51:51.630

Reputation: 2 993

2I think you will find "till" only in informal speech and litarary works. There is no difference in meaning and whether it sounds natural depends on the context and situation. Any specific reason for not using "until"? – user3169 – 2014-08-02T16:50:35.670


Same question in EL&U:

– jinawee – 2014-08-03T00:13:43.590

@jinawee I visited the link you posted. There it says when negative sentences are concerned, using "till" is not correct. And hence the sentence in OP is not correct. Am I right? – Man_From_India – 2014-09-02T02:57:57.637

@Man_From_India I'm not a native but I'll give my view. As you can see in the comments there, some people find more natural using "till" in particular negative conditionals (I'd prefer "till" rather than "until" in "I'm not gonna say a word till I get a lawyer" for the sake of fludity) . So you can't say whether is correct or not, it will just sound different. In the OP's case, "until" might fit better, but "till" is fine (if it were in a high school texbook, "till" would possibly seem strange). – jinawee – 2014-09-02T08:18:42.150



The word till is a synonym of until, so the meaning is the same, yes. Until is the more standard word.

It can also be written 'til or til. (Both are less formal than until)

Edit: Note that until is the preferred word today, so until will usually sound most natural. Other meanings of till are even included in this graph:

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Posted 2014-08-02T15:51:51.630

Reputation: 502

4The *'til* spelling represents a misconception that the word is abbreviated from *until*, when in fact it is the older, more basic word. I suggest using the standard spelling *till* instead. – snailplane – 2014-08-02T23:07:06.080


Or just use until, as it is far more popular word today, used over 90% of the time (according to an ngram query

– Qubei – 2014-08-03T01:03:33.720

@snailplane Do you have a source for that? I always assumed 'til came from until, and I use 'til exclusively (and even scoff at till users). – pabo – 2014-08-09T00:45:09.790


@pabo Sure, pretty much any source you like. EtymOnline is one that's freely available. The Oxford English Dictionary says: "ME. (originally northern) untill, f. ON. und (retained only in unz, undz = und es), = Goth. und (and untē), OS. und (usually unt), OFris. und (ont), up to, as far as + till (till prep. and conj).]". You can, of course, scoff for whatever reason you like, but scoffing at someone for preferring the standard spelling of a word is a rather strange choice.

– snailplane – 2014-08-09T00:54:16.323

@snailplane err.. the oldest spelling isn't the same as the standard spelling. – Qubei – 2014-08-09T00:59:22.890

@Qubei No, but till is most certainly standard. The non-standard 'til indicates in spelling the reanalysis of till as an abbreviation of until. It's certainly interesting that speakers like yourself conceptualize it this way, and I don't have anything against the spelling 'til myself, but I recommend avoiding it because it may convince people that the speller is ignorant. – snailplane – 2014-08-09T00:59:58.927


The AHD suggests that 'til is now acceptable as an alternative respelling of till: "Till is actually the older word, with until having been formed by the addition to it of the prefix un-, meaning "up to." In the 18th century the spelling 'till became fashionable, as if till were a shortened form of until. Although 'till is now nonstandard, 'til is sometimes used in this way and is considered acceptable, though it is etymologically incorrect." Of course, till is still standard and in widespread use.

– snailplane – 2014-08-09T01:04:13.843

My world is shattered. I will start using till exclusively, and have started making a list of all the people I have previously misjudged by their use of it. Apologies to ensue. – pabo – 2014-08-09T01:06:16.390

For reference, the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) has 786 results for ' til (because of how the corpus is put together, you have to put a space after the apostrophe when you search) and 12060 results for till. That's about a 15:1 ratio in favor of till.

– snailplane – 2014-08-09T01:12:47.403