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Guest:Hi. I am Korean, and have a couple of questions about the usage of words, since and until.
1) Our city saw its highest level of snow yesterday since 1970.
I smoked only one cigarette since I quit smoking a month ago.
He is said to be the best teacher since the school opened.
Are these sentences correct? I was wondering, because 'since' is usually used with a main clause in present perfect tense. If these are correct, would you please explain when it's okay to use 'since' with a main clause in present or past tense? ( Is it becasue these sentences contain words like 'highest, 'only' and 'best'?)
2) I know that if someone tells me, "The store is closed untill Monday," it means the store will be open again on Monday, not Tuesday. How about "The store stayed closed until last year?"
Does it mean the store reopened last year or this year? I thought that 'until' means a particular action or state lasts up to the appointed time inclusive if it is used in a positive sentence.
Please, help me with these problems. I appreciate for your time and help.
You said though, that "'since' is usually used with a main clause in present perfect tense". I don't think that's true. "Since" is simply a preposition which means "the period of time STARTING at the described moment". Similarly, "until" is a preposition which means "the period of time ENDING at the described moment". I see no reason why you can't use these in any tense.
I have wanted this since the moment I saw him. (Okay in speech)
I had wanted this since the moment I saw him. (Okay in narrative - say a novel)
This is the best thing since sliced bread.
That was the best thing since sliced bread.
We are going to be the greatest band since the Beatles. (Ahem).
There is (as you rightly point out) a possible ambiguity in "The store stayed closed until last year". It could be taken either way. However, I think it likely that this would be interpreted to mean that the store opened sometime during last year, rather than actually at the start or the end. Language doesn't like absolutes.
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