For people who object to the double-negatives common in Spanish, there is one area where Spanish usually omits a negative which in English is necessary to make sense. It involves the word “until”—hasta.
Here are some examples:
- The bus won’t arrive until 3 pm, in Mexico would be: el camión llega hasta las 3 pm.
- He didn’t hand in his homework until the next day. Entregó su tarea hasta el otro día.
- I didn’t see your message until I got home. Vi tu mensaje hasta que llegué a la casa.
To the native English speaker this all sounds unnatural, and it’s almost impossible not to want to say “no vi tu mensaje hasta que llegué a la casa.”
For the native Spanish speaker, a negative would suggest that the bus won’t be arriving, the homework wasn’t handed in, and the message wasn’t seen.
The case is quite arguable, and the negative sounds normal in Spanish when the stress is on what didn’t happen until whatever, rather than what did or will happen.
- No lavó los trastes hasta que fue obligado. He didn’t wash the dishes until he was forced to.
- No escribió un nuevo blog hasta que desapareció de las listas de Google. He didn’t write a new blog until he fell off the Google lists.
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