Until / By the time - Subordinating Conjunctions

Conjunctions - Lesson #10

"Until" and "by the time" are conjunctions that join two sentences.

"Until" means up to the time that something happens.

Look at this example.
  • We cannot start until she arrives.
This means that first, she must arrive, and then we can start.

Here is how you make a sentence with "until".

Action/Result 2 + until + action/result 1

With "until", action/result 1 must be finished before action/result 2 can happen.
  • We cannot finish the report until we have more information.
  • She cannot meet us until she gets off work.
  • It will be hard to make a decision until I see the house for myself.
"Until" is more often used in the middle of a sentence, but it can be used at the beginning.

Until action/result 1, + action/result 2
  • Until she knows what she wants to do, it will be hard for her to find a job that she likes.
  • Until the weather gets warmer, it is not a good idea to go on a picnic.
  • Until the rain stops, the game cannot start.
It is important to remember that we can also use "until + time".
  • I have to work until 9 p.m. tonight.
  • The store will be open until 11 o'clock.
  • We will be on vacation until next week.
  • The swimming pool is closed until May.
It is common to use this pattern: from (starting time) until (finishing time)
  • The store is open from 9 am until 10 pm.
  • The show will run from April until November.
"By the time" shows that an event or action will be finished when the second event starts. It has a similar meaning to "at the time" or "when".

We make these sentences the same way as "until". "By the time" often is used with the present and past perfect.
  • We will have finished by the time she comes.
    (=When she comes, we will have already finished.)

  • I had lived in 5 cities by the time I was 12 years old.
    (=When I turned 12 years old, I had already lived in 5 cities.)
We can use "by + time". We use this for deadlines or end dates.
  • I will finish by Friday.
  • You must turn in your homework by next Monday.
  • We need to finish this by tomorrow.
Practice speaking English and improve your English grammar by finishing the sentences below and then practice making your own sentences. It is the best way to learn English and improve your English fluency fast! Also, do not forget to try using it in real life.

I can't _______________ until I can speak English well.
I can't _______________ until _______________.
We won't _______________ until he comes.
We won't _______________ until _______________.
Let's not _______________ until it stops raining.
I don't want to _______________ until _______________.
By the time she comes, _______________.
We will have finished by the time _______________.
I must _______________ by next week.
The store is open until _______________.