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I recently used a following sentence in my homework:

今日までに 私は 二百まいしゃしんを とりました。

Now, in my homework I actually used 今日まで, without に, and I got it corrected. What's the difference between 今日まで and 今日までに?

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2 Answers 2

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This is one of those odd examples where we could drop the に (and perhaps replace it with a comma) and still have an understandable sentence:

今日まで、私は写真を200枚撮りました。 (きょうまで、わたしはしゃしんをにひゃくまいとりました。)

But this sentence, while perfectly understandable, is ambiguous on a minor technicality, since まで by itself could be used to show when a state or an action ceases. (Humans are smart and can figure out which one you mean, but let's pretend we're robots. Grammatically correct robots.)

募金活動は来週まで行われる。 (ぼきんかつどうはらいしゅうまでおこなわれる。)

The fundraising efforts will go on until next week.

The 来週まで in the above sentence shows that the action will not continue after next week.

Since the point of 今日まで in your example sentence isn't to show that the action of taking the pictures ceases after today, but to show when you took the pictures, the particle に is tacked on to まで just like you would add it to any other time expression that can take に. 今日まで, though it refers to a range of time, is here treated like a single point in time that answers the question of when you took the pictures.

In short, the に can be dropped here. (In writing, when に is dropped, such as in the ために and ~ずに patterns, it's often replaced with a comma.) But to erase any ambiguity, it's best to leave it in, and I think that's what your teacher is getting at.

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I don't have to pretend, my teacher is as strict as a robot when it's about grammar. I'll ask him tomorrow about this question to check my understanding too. –  liori Jun 14 '11 at 20:39

I believe that when you use までに, you're referring to a deadline - thus 今日までに would be "before the end of today (you need to have finished something, you had done something, etc)". It's referring to that specific day, in which you took the pictures.

まで, however, is usually just used to specify that something was the case until that time. 今日まで is referring to the time before today - as in, up until this very day, something was the case.

tl;dr 今日まで = referring to stuff that happened/was the case before today, such as yesterday or last week 今日までに = referring to stuff that happened before the end of today

Hope that clears it up, it's a bit weird to explain.

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