Til or Till: What’s The Difference & How To Choose The Right Word

Have you ever found yourself unsure whether to use “til” or “till” in your writing? It’s a common confusion amongst writers, but fear not – we’re here to give you clarity on these two similar-sounding words.

Understanding the key differences between “til” and “till” will help you know when best to use each of the words in your writing. In this blog post, we will dive into the differences between “til” and “till,” explore their proper usage and provide tips on how to choose the right word for your writing.

After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of when to use each word so you can confidently incorporate them into your writing.

Historical Context

The Old English terms “till” and “til” originally came from the verb “Italian,” which meant “to work” or “to cultivate.”” In Old English, the word “till” meant “to” or “towards” in addition to serving as a conjunction or preposition that denoted time or duration.

In American English, “til” became a colloquial variety while in British English, “till” became the more widely accepted spelling over time. The two are now frequently used interchangeably in modern parlance, and their differences have grown less evident.

What Is The Meaning of ‘Til’?

A less frequent variation of “till” is “til.” It signifies a boundary in terms of duration, scope, or time and has the same meaning as a preposition or conjunction. But “til” is more often used in casual or colloquial settings.

In informal discussions, social media posts, and creative writing, “til” is frequently used, while it is less common in professional writing. Its informality lends the language a feeling of familiarity and ease. For instance:

  • I’ll wait here til you get back.
  • Let’s party til dawn.
  • He won’t leave til he finishes his drink.

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What Is The Meaning of ‘Till’?

Till is the proper synonym for the preposition and conjunction of until. In fact, this post from Merriam-Webster explains that till is actually the older word between the two. Till can also be used as a verb to indicate cultivating the earth for planting, and it can be used as a noun to indicate glacial drift or a container with money in it (or the actual money within the container).

Pronunciation of Till

The word “till” is normally pronounced in both British and American English as “tɪl”. It sounds similar to the terms “fill” and “mill.”

SEE ALSO: When To Use Too or To: Simplifying These Tricky Twins

What Are The Differences Between Till and Til?

Both til and till are acceptable choices for indicating a limit in time or extent. The primary distinction lies in their usage and formality. “Til” is mainly used informally, whereas “till” is more often understood and used in both formal and informal contexts.

The word ’til is a short form of until that, like many contractions, is typically reserved for informal contexts. It’s sometimes spelled without the apostrophe, especially when used casually. (Technically speaking, ’til is an example of the linguistic process known as aphesis, which involves the removal of an unstressed initial vowel or syllable.)

Till is sometimes seen as a misspelling of ’til, but that’s not the case. It’s actually a different word with various meanings, one of which means the same exact thing as ’til.

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When To Use Til or Till In A Sentence

  • Till: Use “till” in formal writing, professional communication, or when you want to ensure clarity and correctness.
  • Til: Reserve “til” for informal writing, conversations, or when you want to convey a casual tone.

Here are some examples of till in use:

  • “Till death do us part,” vowed the bride and groom at their wedding.
  • “I’m going to work in the yard till dinner is ready,” said Alex.

Till can also be a noun or a verb. There are several senses of its noun form.

As a nountill might refer to a register where cash is stored. It might also be an instrument for farming. It could also be a synonym for stony dirt. Here is an example of each:

  • Gregory took twenty dollars from the till at the supermarket.
  • “I can’t work the fields because the till is broken,” the farmer told his wife.
  • “Give me the seeds; I’ll plant the till myself,” his wife replied.

As a verb, it means to cultivate the earth. See the sentence below.

  • “It is time to till the soil,” the daughter said to her father.

Examples and Insights

To provide clarity on the usage of “till” and “til,” let’s delve into more examples and insights:

  • “We’ll wait here till you arrive” indicates a specific time or event for waiting.
  • “I’ll wait here until you get back” is a casual statement that exudes informality.
  • A statement such as “The store is open till midnight” indicates how long the store is open.
  • “Let’s party til dawn” indicates a laid-back, cheerful get-together that lasts till the break of morning.

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How Does Till and Till Compare With Similar words Like Until, Up to, and Through?

Though they are occasionally used interchangeably, “till” and “til” are not the same as similar expressions like “until,” “up to,” and “through.”

  • Until: “Until” designates the point in time or occurrence at which something ends or ceases. It is commonly employed to define a certain point in time or the course of an action. As an illustration, “I’ll wait until you finish your dinner.”
  • Up to: When referring to a limit or extent, “up to” is often used in a spatial or numerical context. It may also mean accomplishing a certain goal or standard. As an illustration, “The store is open until 8pm”.
  • Through: “Through” refers to movement or advancement from side to side or end to end. It may also indicate the conclusion or continuation of an activity. For instance, “I’ll work through the night to finish the project”.

Given that there are many parallels between the phrases “till” and “til”, their meanings and applications are different.

Regional Variations and Preferences

Remember that depending on personal preferences and regional differences, how til and till are used can vary. Some regions or dialects may choose one word over the other, even when both are commonly understood in English-speaking communities.

For instance, “till” is frequently used in informal American English than in official British English. Writing for particular audiences can be made more effective by being aware of these regional differences.

Additional Tips for Usage

Til or till should be used depending on the overall tone and style of your writing. When writing in a formal tone or for an audience of professionals, the term “till” is the most appropriate choice. However, you may make your work appear more casual and approachable by employing “til” in creative or informal writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a style guide that dictates “till” or “til”?

Some style guides might suggest a preference, but it’s not a major grammatical rule.

Is there a time to use one over the other?

It’s more about formality and personal style rather than strict grammatical rules.

If I’m writing for an international audience which one is preferable to use?

It’s more about formality and personal style rather than strict grammatical rules.


Till, and ’til are all used in modern English to denote when something will happen. With till standing as the older word, til, with one L is an informal and poetic shortening of until. The form ’till, with an additional L, is rarely if ever used today.


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