Abbreviating “until”

The English language is hard enough without abbreviations and contractions. For example, we take tiny words like do and not and we combine and contract them to make don’t. We go from I do not know  to I don’t know and then, there are those writers who, hoping to capture a certain vernacular, will take it all the way to  dunno. Is it any wonder people choose to hang on to their native languages and shun English?

Why do we take tiny words and try to make them shorter? Unless you need to eliminate a syllable for a Haiku, I’m not sure I understand this penchant of ours. In any case, today,  I was going to take issue with the abbreviation of the word “until.”

Forget the missing apostrophe in its. Today I was all prepared to go on a tirade about the misuse of the word till— that is, until I looked it up. Yes, my dictionary says it’s correct to use till as a substitute for until. I had always been under the impression that it should be ’til or the less popular til. I’ll admit I learned something today, but you won’t catch me using till anytime soon, unless it’s in reference to a cash register or farming.

I guess the fun and games are truly over now.



Filed under English Language, our complex language

4 responses to “Abbreviating “until”

  1. Kathryn

    Interesting. I have to admit, I am more comfortable with till than with ’til or til (the latter just plain looks wrong). And I don’t have a Book of Common Prayer handy, but I’ve always seen the standard Anglican wedding service written using “till death do us part” rather than either of the others. . .a memory which Wikipedia at least confirms. Does the AP Stylebook say anything on the subject?

  2. Kathryn

    Oh, geez, sorry I asked! But–no egg, really. Because you started off by saying “I was wrong,” then explained why–pretty powerful stuff! And, um, the AP Stylebook is preeminent in its field, journalism, but it doesn’t necessarily rule in other areas. I suspect ’til gets used more in fiction, where at times its use would make sense.

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