Word pairs: by | until


Wait until we're ready - Please finish by 5 p.m.


When we refer to time, we can use by to say something will happen at or before a point in time.

  • We need to finish this report by 6 p.m. (it has to be finished no later than 6 p.m.)


We use until to say something will continue up to a point in time/event:

  • We will stay here until tomorrow.
  • I work until 6 p.m.

We can also use until with negative verbs to say something will only begin after a specific point in time/event:

  • We can't serve the food until they are here. (we will only start serving when they arrive)
  • We can't leave until 8 p.m. (we can only leave at 8 p.m.)
Further learning
Description Author Language
Explanation of how 'até' translates to 'by' or 'until'. SmallAdvantages
The difference between 'by' and 'until' when talking about time. BBC Learning