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It was not long ___ the design deficiencies of the room became apparent.

A) as if
B) before
C) until
D) wherever
E) unless

Hello teachers,

The answer given is "B"; Is option "C" also possible? If not, why? One more, is this question a suitable test question in terms of the evaluation of "before/until" usage)

Any comment' ll be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Comments  
That's a good 'un, Yulysess. At first blush I thought that 'until' wouldn't work but upon reflection and a google, it seems apparent that they both work. I'll suggest that 'before' sounds a bit more formal, 'until' less so.

That strongly suggests that the test question should be sent straight to the trash bin.
I think both before and until are acceptable.

Webster's Third New International Dictionary has the following definitions for these conjunctive usages:
before:
1:
earlier than the time when <before the year was out>
2: sooner than <he will starve before he will steal>

until:

1: up to the time that: till such time as <the game continued until it got dark>
2: before the time that <often years pass by until the new ruler is found>
3: to the point or degree that: so long or so far that <would clamber up the stairs until he was breathless>
Definition 1 of before and definitions 1 and 2 of until fit this sentence. No, this is not a suitable test question, unless multiple answers are allowed.
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I can't say for certain whether this is a good test question. It might depend, I think, on the particular variety of English your teacher is aiming at.

For me, as an American, the sentence opener "It was not long before ..." is as standard as it gets. I find "It was not long until ..." strange -- not because the meaning is strange or impossible with "until", but because it conflicts with the standard way of following "It was not long ...". I don't know whether this turn of phrase is considered typical in British English.

In the U.S. it would be an excellent test question. The closer one is to mastering American English, the more likely he is to choose B.

On the basis of grammar alone, one can even argue for E. But the point is that tests of this kind are not testing grammar alone; they are also testing your familiarity with certain idiomatic word groups, a familiarity you should be acquiring through reading.

CJ
CalifJimFor me, as an American, the sentence opener "It was not long before ..." is as standard as it gets. I find "It was not long until ..." strange -- not because the meaning is strange or impossible with "until", but because it conflicts with the standard way of following "It was not long ...". I don't know whether this turn of phrase is considered typical in British English.

.CJ

The BNC shows only two in one million words of the "until" version. And Google shows this:

544,000 English pages for "was not long before".

33,200 English pages for "was not long until".
Does everyone agree that before is more common, but until is also correct?
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Thank you all again, indeed! Much appreciated.
The structure "X until Y" seems more idiomatic to me when X is a process:

1. I read posts on English Forums until I fell asleep.

MrP
Does everyone agree that before is more common, but until is also correct?

I don't think any one of us out here in cyberspace can answer that question!
I don't know about everyone, but this one (i.e., CJ) agrees!
That said, I don't recommend using "It wasn't long until ..." in preference to "It wasn't long before ..." more often than every death of a pope.

CJ
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