Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

If we don't leave till after lunch we'll be cutting it very fine.

I understand it to mean: "If we don't leave after lunch, we'll be cutting it very fine." (In the event of our not leaving immediately after lunch, we will leave ourselves just enough time to do something.)

But why is till in that position?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The word till means until

Until means

[often preceded by up] in or throughout the period before

In the context of your sentences, the first means

if we [don't leave in any of the periods before, but] leave [immediately] after lunch, we'll be cutting it fine.

The second sentence means

If we don't leave [immediately] after lunch, we'll be cutting it very fine.

The first sentence contemplates leaving at a variety of times up to the period immediately following lunch. The second sentence only contemplates one departure time - immediately following lunch.

share|improve this answer

You could also rewrite the sentence like so:

If we don't leave 'til after lunch, we'll be cutting it very fine.

'til is an abbreviation of 'until'.

share|improve this answer
1  
This is more of a comment than an answer. –  FumbleFingers Jul 25 '13 at 3:13

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.