Recently, I critiqued a submission for our weekly writer’s group meeting. I found an obvious error in this sentence: “I’ll be in the office till noon.”
Till is something you do to the ground, I thought, as I changed till to until.
After a moment, it occurred to me that, since the word appeared as spoken dialogue, maybe it should be written as ’til. The more I thought about it, I swore I’d seen til used without the apostrophe. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure about the whole thing.
I stopped critiquing and started researching.
It turns out, I was flat-out wrong from the start.
The first of these words to appear in English literature was till. It appeared around the year 800. Until doesn’t show up until around 1200 – created by appending the prefix und (meaning up to) to till.
That means that ’til is improper, since till was the original word.
I also learned that til is not a real word.
In summary, here are the rules:
Till is technically the most accurate.
Until is an acceptable (and more common) alternative.
‘Til should be avoided.
Til is not a real word.
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