'Til and Till

One of the most surefire ways to tell whether an article has been professionally edited is the word 'til. 

This contracted form of until correctly uses an apostrophe to indicate omitted letters. But though it's technically right, it's a dead giveaway that the writer or editor didn't know what he was doing.

Professionals, when they want a shorter form of until don't use 'til. They use till.

Anyone who hasn't studied a style guide might think this is an error. A till, in many cases, is a drawer in a cash register famously featured in the sentence "He had his hand in the till." So anyone with good language fundamentals but no editing training would logically conclude that till is the error.

It's not. The word till used to mean until actually predates until itself. Till is the original. That's why style guides say to use this original word and not a contracted version of a its younger cousin.

And while, technically, the contracted for 'til is legit -- you can, after all, contract anything you want -- it's a sure-fire sign that the editor doesn't know editing. Want to know more? Here's a column that goes deeper.

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