Difference between BEFORE and UNTIL


Is there any difference between UNTIL and BEFORE? To be more exact, please take a look at these examples: 1) I will wait UNTIL you come. 2)I will wait BEFORE you come.

I can see why it may be hard for language learners to differentiate between these two prepositions. Their meanings are very similar and sometimes they may even be used interchangeably. Let’s look at the definitions and some examples to help you understand the difference.
BEFORE means earlier than
UNTIL means up to a certain point in time

  • I have to talk to the client before I call my manager. (It means I will talk to the client first/earlier and later I will call my manager.)
  • I’ll wait to call my manager until I hear from the client. (It means I will wait up to that point in time when the client calls me.)


  • I always feed my dog before I have dinner. (It means the dog eats first/earlier and I eat later.)
  • I don’t have dinner until I feed my dog. (It means I don’t eat up to that point in time when my dog is fed.)


  • I want to get home before 8. (earlier than 8)
  • I want to stay here until 8. (up to 8 o’clock)


  • I’d lived there before my son was born. (It means I had lived there earlier, but I may lived there after his birth too. )
  • I’d lived there until my son was born. (It means I stopped living there when he was born and went to live somewhere else.)


  • I will wait before you come.
    This sentence is NOT correct. It means that I will wait first and then some time later somebody will come. It’s not what you want to say. What you want to say is:
  • I will wait until you come.
    It means I will wait up to that point in time when this person comes.


  • I will wait before 8.
    Not correct.
  • I will wait until 8.
    Correct. It means you will wait up to 8 o’clock.


  • I will not see my husband again until/before Christmas.
  • They will not be back until/before Sunday.
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