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I'm studying for N3 Japanese test. I'm stuck in a sentence of an exercise in which is written

帰国{きこく}するまでになんとか日本語{にほんご}を習得{しゅうとく}したい。

Why is it wrong to say

帰国するまでなんとか日本語を習得したい。?

I really don't get it, if someone could teach me the difference I would be really happy. Thanks!

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In short,

  • まで = until
  • までに = by

Or to say, A まで B means B keeps taking place while A doesn't come, and A までに B means B gets to come true before (the end of) A comes. Thus,

帰国するまでなんとか日本語を習得したい。

would (even we overlook some stiffness) imply you're willing to forget Japanese after you return, which is not a very laudable attitude for a Japanese student :D

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