is a particle that roughly means ‘as far as (A)’, or ‘until the point of (A)’. When used with verbs, it is often translated as ‘until (A) happens’.
means ‘as far as/until the point of’, it cannot be used with verbs in past tense, as would usually be the case in English. Due to this, past tense will be made clear by the context of the story, or verbs that come later in the sentence.
Until my friend came, I wandered around the station. (した gives the whole sentence the meaning of past tense)
Until my phone breaks, I will use it.
When used with a place, まで
functions similarly to に. This means that someone or something will go ‘to’ the place, but not go any further.
To get a better idea of how まで
is used in relation to the past, let’s have a look another example, and how it would translate in English.
Here we can see that the English sentence will say ‘started’, but 始（はじ）まる ‘start’ (non-past tense
) is required in Japanese. However, later in the sentence, 来（こ）なかった (past tense
) is used. In this way, the overall meaning stays the same, while being slightly different to what an English native speaker would expect.