When, unless, till/until, once, after

Conjunctions of time

Despite talking about future, we never use future tenses in time clauses (sentences after the conjunctions).

For talking about past events, we often use perfect tenses (past and present).


We use them to talk about future or past events.


We use when to say that something will happen after previous action is over.


When I get home, I’ll take a shower and go shopping.

When I finish my shopping, I’ll cook my dinner and I’ll go to the pub.

When you come and join me in the pub, we’ll discuss your intentions to get married.

When we finish discussing that, you will not want to get married.


(= if + negative)


You won’t get married, unless you really have to.

Unless you were completely stupid, you took precautions to stay out of trouble.

We will not help you unless you ask for our intervention.

Do not bother me with your complains unless you want me to sort them out for you.


Meaning: ‚up to the moment specified‘


I’ll wait here until you come and pick me up, OK?

He won’t move till the end of the tenancy agreement.

We’ll keep walking until we drop dead from exhaustion.

She likes to shop till she drops.


Meaning: when, as soon as, immediately after one action


We’ll open the champagne once you arrive.

He dropped his bags once he had walked through the door.

She took off her dress once he had walked in.

You’ll be fine once you get used to the new rules imposed by the manager.

Hardly………when/ no sooner………..than

We use these to say one action started just when the first one had finished


The show had hardly begun when my phone went off (started to ring).

I had hardly sat down when my wife arrived.

No sooner had the door shut than I realised I had forgotten my keys inside. (I locked myself out)

We had no sooner walked into the shop than the fire alarm went off.


Meaning: One action followed by another


When/After you have finished with the essay, you will have to leave the classroom.

When/After you have finished with your task, hand it over to your supervisor.

  • both these sentences relate to the future

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