Till, ‘Til, or Until?
I can’t remember the song, but at church last Sunday we sang a hymn that included the word ’til. Like many churches these days, we project the song lyrics onto a screen, and I’ve been asked, as a recognized linguistic authority (a.k.a., nit-picky grammar geek), to double-check the grammar and spelling. The use of ‘til got my attention. I was pretty sure the word was simply till. Fortunately, I looked it up before I made the projector guy change it.
I get ‘til. It seems like the logical way of informally shortening until. What’s interesting is that till — meaning before or up to a certain time — is older than its synonym until. In fact, until comes from the compound of und, Old Norse for up, and till, which originally meant to. So und till, later shortened to until, meant up to.
That means there’s no need for ‘til as an abbreviated version of until, since till has always existed as a synonym. But it is used so commonly that dictionaries now list it as an alternative.
There are, of course, purists who will object to the use of ’til. It’s fine, but if you want to avoid an argument, stick to till or until. For those of you who want to say something is wrong, there is til. If you leave out the apostrophe indicating the missing letters, it’s wrong. I know that will make somebody happy.
‘Til next time…
Please be so kind as to leave me your thoughts in a comment below…