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The Wait Is Over! Learn If You Should Use “‘Til” or “Till”

light blue and white text on dark blue background: "til or till"

If you feel like until has just too many letters or syllables, good news: you’ve got options. But should you use ’til or till? And what’s the difference, anyway?

By the end of this article, you’ll know the differences between until, till, and ’til, including in terms of origin, level of formality, and use.

Quick summary

Until, till, and ’til all mean the same thing. The informal contraction ’til is a shortening of until that’s typically only used in informal contexts. The word till is a separate word altogether—it’s actually older than until. Till isn’t informal, but it can seem that way due to the informality of ’til, which sounds exactly the same.

’til vs. till

The word ’til is a shortening of until that, like many contractions, is typically reserved for informal contexts. It’s sometimes spelled without the apostrophe, especially in casual use. (Technically speaking, ’til is an example of the linguistic process known as aphesis, which involves the disappearance or loss of an unstressed initial vowel or syllable.)

Till is sometimes seen as a misspelling of ’til, but that’s not the case. It’s actually a separate word altogether with a variety of meanings, one of which means the same exact thing as ’til.

till or until

Till and until are completely interchangeable—they mean the same exact thing and can be used in all the same ways, including as a conjunction or preposition. They both have a very long history of use in English, but in fact till is even older than until: the first records of till come from before 900, with the first records of until coming in the 1100s. (Until and till are based on the same root.)

Even though they’re interchangeable, till may seem more informal than until to some people because it’s so similar to the shortening ’til. For this reason, some people avoid using till in formal contexts. Still, you can never really go wrong using till.

The occasional rendering of ’till with an apostrophe (certainly influenced by ’til) is generally considered a misspelling—and frankly unnecessary, since till is right there to use.

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Examples of ’til, till, and until used in a sentence

Until, till, and ’til are interchangeable in meaning, but people often choose which one they use based on how formal they want to be. This means that ’til is typically being avoided in formal contexts, which sometimes leads to the avoidance of till as well. Still, in any of the examples below, any one of the terms could be used if formality were not a consideration.

 

  • I thought it was a great offer until I realized there are no benefits attached.
  • I stay up till midnight every so often, but rarely any later.
  • The sign says “Open ’til midnight,” so we’ve still got time.

Don't wait to find out if what you're feeling are hunger pangs or hunger pains.

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