'TIL is a recognized informal variant spelling of either 'until' or 'till'.



'TIL is a recognized informal variant spelling of either 'until' or 'till'. It has often been said by style guides that it's a mistake and it arouses passion in some people. 

"Depending on how you look at it, it's either an incorrectly spelled form of until or an incorrectly punctuated contraction of till; or both." [Michael Quinion]

It all began in the 18th century when writers muddied the waters by creating 'till and 'til under the mistaken assumption they were contractions of until. 

"Depending on which dictionary you use, 'til is either an accepted alternative spelling or a spelling error." [grammarpartyblog.com]

Although it is very common in AmE, it has been deemed inappropriate in formal writing. 

"It's ugly and looks ignorant no matter how you slice it." [thebettereditor]
"Until and till: either of these is correct, but not 'til." [Patricia O'Connor]

Writers of usage guides have roundly condemned 'till as a barbarism. Harper's Dictionary of Contemporary Usage says it's 'a bastard word and is substandard.'

"If a form deserves a sic, it's the incorrect 'til. Worse yet is 'till, which is abominable." [Bryan Garner]

That said, a few usage guides allow 'til in very casual writing or poetry and most recent writers on language prefer to describe it as an informal version of until — it often turns up in newspapers, advertising and song lyrics. 

"North Texans in for warmer weather, 'til cold front hits next week." [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

It is also used in informal set phrases, like 'shop 'til you drop', 'it ain't over 'til it's over', ''til we meet again', etc. 

"I laughed 'til I cried."
"Open Friday and Saturday 'til 2AM"

As The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language explains:

"Although 'till is now nonstandard, 'til is sometimes used in this way and is considered acceptable, though it is etymologically incorrect."

In the US, 'til is a commonly seen informal spelling.

"...it's 31 days of counting the hours 'til Daylight Savings Time." [Seattle Post Intelligencer]

Although, it is recommended against by most guides as nonstandard, many AmE users state they prefer 'til due to the other meaning of the word e.g. to till the land/tilling the fields/operate the till, etc. 

"For me, 'till' is a cash drawer and a verb meaning to plow the land."

All in all, the status of 'til versus until and till is often argued about and most style guides have something to say on the matter. 

"Till makes me think of working the soil. It's 'till!"

You might find a dictionary that cites it as an informal version of until, but you won't easily find it in any publication that employs editors. 

"Don't touch the till 'til you take the customer's money."

Apostrophe-less TIL is occasionally used, but spelling-wise it falls between the two stools of till and ’til.

"But without the preceding apostrophe is still regarded as wrong." [Michael Quinion]

So, in casual writing, you can use 'til if you really want to (always make sure to use the apostrophe though) — but because the word is not warmly accepted in all quarters, handle it with care. 

"Scissor sharp script will keep you laughing til' (sic!) your sides split." [TOTAL FILM]

Bottom line: 'til, which, depending on your outlook, is either a poetic creation or an unseemly bastard, is best avoided in formal writing, where you're always better off with until or till. 

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