From/until or From/to?
January 9, 2007 4:42 AM   Subscribe

"From *date* until *date" or "From *date* to *date*"? Grammarians hope me!

I imagine it may be a point of emphasis, whereby the "until" variant emphasizes the end date (as in "From 1910 until 1945, Japan ruled Korea as a colony, but in the ensuing decades blah blah blah"), but I can't seem to find any solid rule on it.

A student has asked me for a ruling, and quoted a past teacher who rejected "until," but I'm not convinced it's that cut and dried.

Anybody know for sure?

Oh, and for the record, I'm not supporting or advocating this sort of prescriptivism, but I'm preparing some very deserving students for a standardized test, which hasn't any such qualms.
posted by Joseph Gurl to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apparantly "from/to" is slightly less formal than "from/until", but both are valid.
posted by ParsonWreck at 5:06 AM on January 9, 2007

The website of Purdue's Online Writing Lab here (scroll down to "extended time") seems to indicate that there's no difference - the meaning illustrated parenthetically is the same:

The movie showed from August to October.
(Beginning in August and ending in October.)

The decorations were up from spring until fall.
(Beginning in spring and ending in fall.)

(IAAET: I am an English teacher.)
posted by mdonley at 6:16 AM on January 9, 2007

Yeah, there's no difference and both are equally valid. This does not mean, of course, that someone somewhere hasn't invented a difference and tried to bully everyone into going along, since people find it very hard to accept that there isn't a single correct way of doing everything; you might try to find out what position the standardized test in question takes on things grammatical, because that's all that matters here.
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on January 9, 2007

I'd use "through" to embrace the second date, otherwise it can be ambiguous as to whether that date is included past 12:01 am. Especially with "until," where if my ticket is valid "until" Friday, then does it become invalid on Friday? Or is it valid up to and including Friday?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:08 AM on January 9, 2007

Thanks guys, good to have backup.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:30 AM on January 9, 2007

From a style standpoint, shorter words are almost always better, so from/to is better than from/until.
posted by kindall at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2007

shorter words are almost always better

Assuming they mean the same thing, "go" is not always better than "arrive."
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:32 AM on January 9, 2007

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