Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 2: 4/17

By ~, By the time that ~, Before ~

Noun + まで
Register Standard
使用域 一般
までに is a combination of two different types of particles. The 副助詞(ふくじょし) (adverbial particle) まで, and the 格助詞(かくじょし) (case-marking particle) . までに is verb similar to まで when it means ‘until’. However, there is one very important distinction. This distinction is that までに means ‘by’, not ‘until’.
To use までに, we will need to attach it to the end of a noun, or verb in the non-past form.
  • 5時(じ)までに駅(えき)来(き)てください
    Please come to the station by 5 o’clock.
  • 遊(あそ)びに行(い)くまでに片付(かたづ)け
    Please tidy up by the time you go out to play.
To understand the difference between まで, and までに, we need to remember that usually marks a ‘target’, or a ‘destination’ for where something will happen. In this case, まで is the ‘target’ that is marking. This is due to the fact that まで means 'as far as' (まで is sometimes written using kanji 迄(まで), especially in older/formal texts, and newspapers).
  • 来月(らいげつ)までにレポート書(か)
    I will write a report by next month. (Focus is on ‘next month’ being the deadline)
  • 来月(らいげつ)までレポート書(か)
    I am writing a report until next month. (Focus is on ‘next month’ being the end point for something that will continue until that point)
In this way, までに more literally means ‘(A) as far as ( marks the target), (B).
Fun Fact
Originally, まで meant ‘as far as’ in regard to the passing of a particular event. However, in modern Japanese, most people will assume that the speaker means ‘by the beginning of (A)’. Due to this, sentences that have a very broad event, such as 夏(なつ)までに could actually be interpreted as ‘by the start of summer’, or ‘before the end of summer’, depending on who you are talking to. In these cases, it would be better to add a more specific time frame.
  • 冬(ふゆ)終(お)わまでにスキーたい
    I want to go skiing by the end of winter. (Not just ‘by winter’, but specifically ‘by the end of winter’)
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Please call by tomorrow.
I have to arrive at school by 8 o'clock.
Let's go Christmas present shopping by the end of November.
みんなの日本語 I
Page 110 [CH 17]