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Prepositions BY and UNTIL

I am excited that my blogs are useful and find their ways to more and more users.  I really try to make my grammar explanations as simmple as possible. The reasons go back to my school years. 

I remember my school time when our teacher asked us deffinitions and some students just learnt them by heart. Even if they rememered the deffinitions, they were not able to use it in real life and everyday communications. I try to be different and combine short and clear explanation with practice. The more you practice, the more you learn and memorize the practical usage in common contexts. Memorizing in contexts are further more important than learning strict grammatical rules.

But let´s go back to grammar and examples. Today I decided to make clear the difference between the prepositions BY and UNTIL.


  • In passive sentences 
  • Preposition preceeding means of transport
  • In connection with time
  1. By in passive sentences 

The preposition BY is used in connection with passive sentences when the person, animal or thing is important and should be mentioned in the sentence as “doer” of the action presented in the sentence.

Peter Smith teaches English. English is taught by  Peter Smith.
I opened the book. The book was opened by  me.
Your dog bit my daughter. My daughter was bitten by your dog.

2. Preposition by preceding means of transport

Already English beginners learn to use the preposition BY with means of transport. We simply say travel by car, by boat, by plane or by bus.


When I was young, I used to travel by bus. Now I like to go for a trip by my car.

3. BY and UNTIL used with time

We use the preposition by in the context and meaning “not later than”. We have to do something in particular time. We can do it sooner but not later. The event just happens in particular time and has no continuation:

I posted the letter today, so they should receive it by Monday. (They can receive it on Monday or sooner, but not later than on Monday.)

This event just happens once and it has its end.

On the other hand, we use until in case we intend to emphasise duration of an event. We want to express how long the situation continues. The event can also happen repeatedly. 

Shall we go now? No, let´s wait until it stops raining.

Difference between until and by

Compare use:

Ann will be away until Monday. (He will be back on Monday) Ann will be back by Monday. (She will return not later than Monday)
I´ll be working until 10.30. (I´ll stop at 10.30) I´ll have finished my work by 10.30. (I will finish it not later than 10.30)


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