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Question
Dear Ted:

Are the following sentences correct?

1) So far, he has been a diligent pupil.

2) Until now, he has been a diligent pupil.

3) Up to now, he has been a diligent pupil.

If all three are possible, do they mean the same thing?

Regarding punctuation, is it correct to use a comma in the above sentences?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Are the following sentences correct?

1) So far, he has been a diligent pupil.

2) Until now, he has been a diligent pupil.

3) Up to now, he has been a diligent pupil.

If all three are possible, do they mean the same thing?

*** #1 and #3 mean the same thing.  #2 is somewhat different.  When you use "until," you
are suggesting that something has changed at the time of speaking.  

EXAMPLE:  A person that you have considered to be your best friend has just betrayed you.
When you learn of his betrayal [the very current present], he is no longer your best friend.
That's an occasional when you use #2:  Until now, he has been my best friend.

NOTE:  You can also express the idea using different tenses, such as the past perfect:  Until yesterday, he had been my best friend.



Regarding punctuation, is it correct to use a comma in the above sentences?

**** Some people say "no," because the opening phrases are so short.  I believe that commas
SHOULD be used, especially since there is the element of time involved.

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.

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

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