I often see students use “until now” and “so far” incorrectly. Here’s a quick lesson!
Rule one: Use “so far” to describe a condition that is ongoing. As in:
“I moved to New York five weeks ago and I haven’t met anyone so far.” (this means that I still don’t have any friends)
Rule two: Use “until now” to talk about a condition that has just stopped occurring. As in:
“I didn’t call you because I didn’t have your phone number until now.” (this means I just now got your phone number)
Rule three: Don’t use “until now” to talk about a condition that is ongoing.
To further illustrate, here’s an error I commonly see:
“We met in high school and have been friends until now.”
In this case, the student wants to say that they are still friends, but the sentence actually means that they just stopped being friends… the opposite of his intended meaning!
Here’s an error that inspired this post:
“I took the TOEFL five weeks ago, and haven’t gotten my scores until now.”
In this case, the student wants to say that he is still waiting for his scores, so the proper sentence is:
“I took the TOEFL five weeks ago, and haven’t gotten my scores so far.”