General Writing and Grammar Help/Until & unless

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Question
Dear Ted:

If the two sentences below are both correct, do they have the same meaning?

1) UNTIL I am paid the arrears, I am not going to take up a new assignment.

2) UNLESS I am paid the arrears, I am not going to take up a new assignment.

Thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

If the two sentences below are both correct, do they have the same meaning?

1) UNTIL I am paid the arrears, I am not going to take up a new assignment.

2) UNLESS I am paid the arrears, I am not going to take up a new assignment.

*** Wow!  These two are practically the same, BUT there is a "hair's difference."

"UNTIL" connotes that you WILL be paid, but there is no suggestion of when.

However, when you use "UNLESS," the connotation is that you MIGHT NOT GET PAID at all.

Until = matter of time
Unless = one condition or another

*** Most American interchange the two, but they really should not.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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