I always thought you cannot use a future tense after "until" or "unless". But recently, in a very famous IT system, I found the following:

An estimate of how much work remains until this issue will be resolved.

Is that correct? Why it is not "until the issue IS resolved"?

  • 2
    You are correct, it should be "is" and not "will". This is an (erroneous) usage I see a lot in the technical Indian English speaking community. – Dan Bron Dec 3 '14 at 9:32
  • It's also a fairly common mistake here in Spain, where it would be a present subjunctive in the mother tongue. – Martin Dec 3 '14 at 9:55
  • RIght, and what about sentences serving as a subject? e.g. "I do not know until when they will stay". That would be correct, would it not? As it is not about the time – Pietross Dec 3 '14 at 10:23
  • The "Is that correct?" element of this question is General Reference - there's not a single instance of "until he will be 18" in Google Books (and the single example from the Internet at large is clearly a less-than-totally-competent speaker). That's as against a claimed 21,300 instances of "until he is 18". But "Why?" might still be a valid, answerable question. – FumbleFingers Dec 3 '14 at 15:31
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    I'd also cast a vote for "...until the issue has been resolved." That may (or may not, YMMV) better preserve the meaning of the original. – Kevin Dec 3 '14 at 19:42

I was surprised to encounter a fairly long tradition of use not only of "until it will" but (more specifically) of "until it will be" in English publications, though nothing before about 1770. The Ngram chart of the two phrases for the years 1750–2000 looks like this:

A Google Books search finds a number of early instances. For example, from Charlotte Mason, The Lady's Assistant for Regulating and Supplying Her Table (1777):

To pot Ox Tongue.

Do it as for pickling : when it has lain its time, cut off the root, boil it until it will peel ; then season it with salt, pepper, cloves, mace, and nutmeg, all beat fine ; rub it well in while it is hot, put it into a pan, pour melted butter over it and send it to the oven ; an hour will bake it ; ...

From Francis Nicholson, "Process for producing the Lights in Stained Drawings," in The Philosophical Magazine (October 1799):

This composition, or stopping mixture, is made by dissolving bees-wax in oil of turpentine, in the proportion of one ounce of wax to five ounces of the oil ; and, as near the time of using it as may be convenient, grind with the pallet-knife as much flake white, or white lead, as may be wanted at one time ; dilute it with in oil of turpentine the above solution until it will work freely with the pencil, and appear on the paper, when held between the eyes and the light, to be opaque.

And from Maria Rundell, A New System of Domestic Cookery (1808):

Hybiscus Jam.—E.R.—Pare off the upper part of the fruit, and cut the seed from the lower or stem part; to each seer (two pounds) of fruit add a breakfast-cupful of water. Put the whole into a stone jar, boil it in a kettle of water for four or five hours, take it out, weigh it, add an equal weight of sugar, and boil until it will jelly. Hibiscus jelly is made the same way, only the juice must be strained before the sugar is added.

The phrase "until it will be" began to gain popularity in the 1840s. From William Miller, "The True Inheritance of the Saints," in Dissertations on the True Inheritance of the Saints (1842):

How exactly all the Scriptures harmonize in this view of our subject [the second coming of Jesus]! And take any other view, and difficulties meet us in every step. I would ask, why are men so loath to look at our subject? And why do the dear servants of Christ put off examination of this subject until it will be forever too late?

And from notes recorded on February 3, 1842, in Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons and Command, volume 48 (1843):

Captain Trotter in his letter says, " It is inadvisable to fill up the vacancy until it will be seen who will have sufficient strength to return to the Coast of Africa, and be able to re-ascend the Niger, and fulfil the duties of Commissioner."

The Ngram chart above shows an interesting but unexplained increase in the frequency of occurrence of "until it will" from the 1820s until roughly the beginning of World War I, followed by a fairly regular decline until the 1980s.

In modern usage the wording "until it will be" is concentrated in religious—and in particular, Jewish—texts. For example, from Abraham Kook, The Lights of Penitence (1925, reprinted in 1978):

The failure results from the claims of the lesser lights, which seemed to have been negated. The great light will continue to do its work and it will not cease until it will be recognized in its higher and lower manifestations.

From Isaiah Horowitz & Miles Krassen, The Generations of Adam (1996):

Thus he [Samuel] must believe that the supernal intention of creation has not yet arrived and reached its completion. Nevertheless, it is necessary that it will arrive and be completed. Yet, this has not occurred until the present day, and it will not come until it will be revealed that judgment is His. Then the original sovereignty of the supernal will and desire will be restored to its former condition.

The phrase "until it will" appears in a broader array of contexts, including (as it did long ago) in cookbooks. From Larry Massie & Priscilla Massie, Walnut Pickles and Watermelon Cake: A Century of Michigan Cooking (1990, recipe instructions reprinted from a 1929 source):

In making molasses candy, get the best molasses (not syrup) and add to a quart of molasses one pound of white sugar. Boil this until it will snap like glass when dropped into water, and then add a teaspoonful of vinegar and a pinch of soda; stir well in, as the soda whitens the candy, and the vinegar checks a tendency to graining.

And from Paul Wellstone, How the Rural Poor Got Power: Narrative of a Grass-Roots Organizer (1978):

There is a process at work that enables people to take their knowledge and experience they have and expand it and extend it until it will encompass a stage beyond that in terms of cooperation and working together and understanding.

Still, having noted this significant line of usage, I agree with the OP—and with FumbleFingers's comment beneath the question—that "until it will" and "until it will be" are rather unusual forms. The form "until it [present-tense verb here]" is far more common.


Don't be surprised.

They are just some old structures which have their roots in what was called "future subjunctive". English language did not have such thing, but still some similar structures were used: "until it will be".

However, as you may know, English did once use other forms of subjunctive mood and it somehow remains in our language:

"I suggest that he go there" "God save the queen" "God be with you"

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