I see in various places online "bis" used to translate "by the time", as in these examples:

And by the time we do, my wife will be dead.

Und bis wir das schaffen, wird meine Frau tot sein.


The meeting will have finished by the time we get there.

Die Sitzung wird vorbei sein, bis wir dort ankommen.

And reverso includes a corresponding sense for it. On the other hand, Duden's entry for "bis" as a conjunction doesn't seem to contain anything similar, and neither does my Langenscheidt "Deutsch als Fremdsprache" dictionary.

So my question is: is this right? Would I be understood if I said "bis ich nach Hause komme, wird es schon dunkel"?

  • Your last example is probably better phrased ...ist es schon dunkel, the process is likely to have already started and it IS dark until you arrive.
    – guidot
    Dec 13, 2023 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


Yes, that's perfectly fine German, both, the example from reverso with its translation, as well as your sentence.

See also the entry on dwds. It doesn't need to be used as conjunction.

  • 1
    I think the moral here is that there are resources out there which are, if not better, then at least as good, and without the spam. In particular, Duden can be more confusing than helpful for learners, in my opinion. I personally start with English Wiktionary and then go to DWDS to fill in any blanks. There is also German Wiktionary if there are lingering issues.
    – RDBury
    Nov 2, 2023 at 5:02

The dominating use for "bis" is the end of an interval (time, space,...), as in "von .... bis ....". And in the cases quoted, the start (time) is implied by the time of speaking, and the end of the time interval is marked by the type of event at that time; the event is a full sentence, verb last. The most prominent example is a priest's "bis dass der Tod euch scheidet" during marriage.

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