Why you should choose till over 'til


I don’t see the contraction ’til much anymore. I used to see it a lot, but I suspect that ever-more-advance spell-checkers on our computers, phones and social media platforms have learned to flag or correct ’til.

Don’t see a problem with ’til? Technically, there isn’t one. In general usage, ’til is not an error. But in professionally edited writing and other formal situations, the correct single-syllable alternative to “until” has no apostrophe and takes two Ls: till.

Here’s the widely influential Associated Press Stylebook: “till. Or until. But not ’til.”

And here’s the equally influential Chicago Manual of Style: “till. This is a perfectly good preposition and conjunction (open till 10 p.m.). It is not a contraction of until and should not be written ’til.”

That bit about contractions is key. One might naturally assume that someone is just using a shortened form of “until” when he says “till.” But till doesn’t come from until at all. Here, in my recent column, is the full story.

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