Difference Between Unless and Until

The words unless and until are often used together but their meanings are different and often confused. Unless and until are subordinating conjunctions, which have conditional connotations, so they are quite easily misconstrued. The phrase unless and until is commonly used, which often leads to people thinking that the two words mean the same thing. Unless refers to a conjunction that implies an exception, to the given statement. It has the same connotation as the words “if” and “except.” An example – Unless you give me the money, I am not going to give you the shoes.

“Unless refers to a condition not being met while until refers to a time threshold not being crossed.”

On the other hand, until is both a preposition and conjunction at the same time that expresses continuance of an action up to a specified time. The word until is used in the context of time and roughly means before and up to the time. Unless refers to a condition not being met while until refers to a time threshold not being crossed.

Difference Between Unless and Until


  • Unless refers to a precondition, it means except if.
  • The word ‘unless’ denotes a precondition to the statement given, it means except if.
  • Unless is just conjunction, which joins two sentences.
  • The simple meaning of unless is except if, which implies a precondition that is required to be satisfied. It is a conjunction that is used to add conditional clauses in a sentence.
  • Unless is used in the sentences to introduce a precondition, in which the given event is possible.
  • Examples: You will not pass the examination unless you study hard. I do not pick calls in the office unless it is important.


  • Until implies up to the point of time given, i.e. before that.
  • The word ‘until’ is used to represent a specific time, or a time limit, up to which something must happen.
  • Until is both a conjunction and a preposition, which is not only used to join two sentences but also a preposition that is used to express the relation of the noun or pronoun with an element in the clause.
  • The word until means, up to a particular time or event. It is used in sentences to denote how long the situation continues.
  • Until is used to emphasize the time that occurs before the happening of the event.
  • Examples: We will wait for Simon until she arrives. Continue reading the lesson, until you get its essence.