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Consider the following translation:

Hasta que tomé la píldora no se me quitó el dolor.

Until I took the pill, the pain did not go away.

Now, this Wikipedia article on Mexican Spanish says the "no" is often omitted in such constructs as the sentence inherently implies a negation. So, according to that article, a Mexican would just say:

Hasta que tomé la píldora se me quitó el dolor.

My confusion is, won't the sentence also get interpreted as "by the time I took the pill, the pain went away"?

If not, how would a Mexican speaker say a sentence involving the phrase "by the time"? I am also curious to know if this omission of "no" is a common feature throughout Mexico or is it just a regional phenomenon. If regional, which parts is it common in? Is it considered "uneducated" speech in those parts?

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I would not post an answer as I'm not so familiar with Mexican Spanish, but in Spanish (from Spain) Spanish this is low-level speaking, the correct way being not removing the "no" particle. –  Envite May 28 at 8:15

3 Answers 3

I am from central México.

I would translate the sense of the sentences in question as follows:

Hasta que tomé la píldora no se me quitó el dolor.

Until I took the pill, the pain did not go away.

And

Hasta que tomé la píldora se me quitó el dolor.

Only until I took the pill did the pain go away.

I think the English translations I have posted are a good equivalent to what is going on grammatically & in terms of sentence "feeling" in the Spanish sentences.

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Here in Mexico it is normal to hear both versions, from my own point of view both are correct.

However,

Hasta qué tomé la píldora se me quitó el dolor.

Is the one I would use.

Another example:

No lo vi hasta que llegué a casa

Hope this helps.

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I DON'T think "Hasta que tomé la píldora se me quitó el dolor." sounds good even in mexican.

this would be correct

"Cuando tome la píldora se me quitó el dolor"

"Al tomar la píldora se me quitó el dolor"

By the time means "in that concrete moment" or "from that moment on", so you can use any expression that means the same as "en ese momento", "justo entonces/cuando", "no antes" , etc.

"en el momento que tome la píldora se me quitó el dolor"

"justo cuando tome la píldora se me quito el dolor"

"cuando tome la píldora y no antes se me quitó el dolor"

I know this can be a bit confussing, we have tons of ways to say the same thing.

Hope it helps.

Edit: I'm not mexican but obviously there are similarities between our dialects that anyone would agree

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