What's the difference between by and until?

by five

 Check out the examples below and then use these words in your own writing and speaking. 

by = before a deadline
– I need to finish my reports by five o’clock. 
– I need to finish my reports before five o’clock. 

by = on or before a deadline 
– The package should arrive by Friday. 
– The package should arrive on or before Friday. 

Until = from a time to a deadline
– I’m going to work on my report from now to five o’clock. 
– I’m going to work on my report from now until five o’clock. 
– I’m going to work on my report until five o’clock. 
Until you arrive, we can’t start the meeting. 
– I’ll wait at the station until you arrive. 

Note: till = until 
This is usually a bit more casual. 
– I’ll be here till about five. 
– Can you wait till I get back? 

Practice examples: 

1. I’m working  _____ six.

2. I think I’ll be home _____ seven.

3. No dessert _____ you eat your vegetables.

4. _____ ten o’clock, I want to be in bed.

5. This offer is only available _____ Saturday.

6. Construction will continue _____ next summer.

7. Homework must be submitted _____ tomorrow at the latest.

8. I stayed up _____ four o’clock this morning.

BONUS CHALLENGE 
9. The train won’t get to the station _____ nine.

 

Answers: 
1. until     2. by     3. until     4. by     5. until     6. until     7. by     8. until

9. both ok
The train won’t get to the station by nine. = not before nine
The train won’t get to the station until nine. = from now to nine the train will be out of the station

Like this example? Did I forget something? Get in touch and let me know! 

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