The Particle まで

第54課: The Particle まで

The particle まで often goes hand in hand with から, with it being the “to” in “from X to Y.” Don’t let classification confuse you as this particle is either a case or adverbial particle. 

Pronunciation Note: Do not pronounce this like the English word “maid”. Don’t even think about it. It’s just so bad that it could cause a Japanese’s ear to bleed. Seriously, don’t. 

The Case Particle まで

The particle まで is most commonly seen in the pattern  から…まで, which means “from…to…”. This can be used to refer to temporal, location, spatial, or quantity boundaries. This pattern can be used in situations like “from 1 to 3 o’ clock,” “from the car to the street,” or “from 1 meter to 4 meters.”

まで is the equivalent of “to/until/till.” This particle is seen a lot after nouns and temporal adverbial nouns like 今. However, it may also be seen after verbs but never in the past tense. 

 With Nouns N + まで  明日まで; 京都まで; そこまで; 1リットルまで
 With Verbs Non-past V (連体形) + まで 終わるまで; 消えるまで; 歌い始めるまで

Tense Note: Do not use it with the past tense. This doesn’t make sense because “until” is describing an event that has yet to actually happen. It’s illogical to use the past tense which refers to something already done/taken place.  


1. 9時から5時まで仕事をします。
    I work from nine to five. 

2. 僕は9さいまでローマでそだちました。
    I was raised in Rome until I was nine. 

3. 最近さいきんまでアメリカに住んでいました。
    I was living in America until recently. 

4. 仕事が始まるまでの休み時間は素晴すばらしい。
    The free time until work starts is wonderful! 

5. 最後さいご一粒ひとつぶまで食べてください。
    Eat to the last grain. 

6. いつまでここにいるのか。(Harsh)
    Until when are you going to be here? 

7. 6月までオースティンに住む予定よていです。
    I plan to live in Austin until June. 

8. ちょっと大学まで行ってくる!
   I’m going to go to the university for a little bit and come back! 

9. カチッと音がるまでかぎむ。 
    To push a key in until there is a click sound. 

10. きょうまでよくえたな、おれ。 (Casual, male speech)
     I’ve endured pretty well thus far…  

11. 「どちらへ」「ちょっとそこまで」 
     “Where are you going?” “No where particular”

Culture Note: In Japanese you may be asked by people as a gesture where you are going, and you may respond in this manner. You are not obliged like you would be to Americans to tell exactly where you’re going. 


Be careful in adding the particle に to まで. までに = “by (the time)”, which is quite different. This can be seen after stuff as simple as 一時. So, 一時までに = by 1 o’ clock. It could also be after the non-past form of a verb, such as in 死ぬ(とき)までにやりとげる = to accomplish by (the time) one dies. Note that you can also easily add とき in case this makes things easier. This pattern shows the time for which something is to be realized. 

12. 零時れいじまでに三冊さんさつ読む。
      To read three books by midnight. 

13. 日が出るまでに寝る。 
    To sleep until the sun rises. 

14. 明日までに郵便局ゆうびんきょくに行かないといけない。 
    I have to go to the post office by tomorrow. 

Grammar Note: ~ないといけない is a “must” construction. We will formally study it inLesson 102.

15. ご参考さんこうまで(に) 
      For your information/reference

Particle Note: This phrase is so common that it might as well be viewed as a set phrase. It is a little more polite with に. The role of まで(に) loosely falls under the usages described thus far. The idea is that the speaker is trying to indirectly suggest a reference, and if the listener gets to the point by which it would be useful to use, that person can do so. 

    I have come by to say hello and introduce myself.

Culture Note: This phrase is often said when simply coming to greet someone. Just like in America, there are times when we feel obliged to visit someone for the first time and exchange salutations. In Japanese, this means you need to show due respect. The verb 伺う in this sentence is a humble form of 来る. 

Culture Section: Trains

The train is the most important mode of transportation in Japan. The 新幹線 (bullet train) continues to connect more of Japan together. 緑の窓口まどぐち is the “Green Window” where you buy reserved seat tickets (指定券していけん) and long distance tickets. Most stations also have a machine to do this. However, you’re more likely to find about deals if you go to an actual window. You can buy tickets in ticket vending machines (券売機けんばいき). A 入場券にゅうじょうけん lets you see people off on the platform, 定期券ていきけん are season tickets, 回数券かいすうけん are discounted tickets.

17. 大阪までの切符きっぷを4まいください。
      Four tickets to Osaka please. 

18. オースティンからダラスまで4時間半よじかんはんかかる。
     It will take 4 and a half hours from Austin to Dallas. 

19. 私たちは一緒いっしょに駅まで行きました。
      We went together up to the train station. 

20. このバスは京都きょうとまで行きます。
      This bus goes (up) to Kyoto. 

21. 新宿までいくらですか。
      How much is it to Shinjuku?

Geography Note: 新宿 is a major commercial and administrative center.

The Adverbial Particle まで

The adverbial particle まで exemplifies an extremity. This is by nature showing degree, but extremity has a great sense of intensity to it. The emotional aspect separates it from the case particle. Aside from that, it also has peculiar usages. Even so, when just after a noun or verb, it’s not that obvious that it’s any different from what you’ve just seen above.

22. オレのガールフレンドまでもオレをうたがってるんだよ。(Masculine; rough)
      Even my own girlfriend doubts me. 

23. どこまでオレをにくむのか。(Masculine; rough)
      To what extent do you detest me? 

24. 今まで(に)見たこともない景色けしきだよ。
      I’ve never seen such scenery before. 

25. 私は今までずっとスウェーデンに住んでいます。
      I’ve been living in Sweden all this while.

26. そこまで言う?ちょっとひどくない?
     Wow, isn’t that a little harsh saying that much?

27. あの人まで宗教しゅうきょうにはまりだした。
      Even that person became obsessed with religion. 

Spelling Note: The verb はまりだすcan be spelled in 漢字 as 嵌り出す.