Saturday, June 9, 2012

At the end / in the end

A question from Maria in Russia:

What is the difference between the two expressions ‘at the end’ and ‘in the end’?


Maria, I’m glad to hear you find this website useful and hope this answer will help you.

I’m going to start with ‘at the end’ because it's got more than one meaning. It can refer to the end of a physical location, like ‘at the end of our street’. It can also mean a metaphorical end, like ‘at the end of the story’ or ‘at the end of the movie’. This phrase can also mean the end point of a period of time. Some examples of this usage are:

The teacher set some homework at the end of the lesson. 
I’m going on holiday at the end of the week. 

So, what about ‘in the end’ then? Well, it’s an adverb phrase which means ‘finally’. Here’s an example:

I complained about the pizza so, in the end, I didn’t have to pay for it. 
We waited for an hour and, in the end, we went without her. 

Well, I’m ‘at the end’ of my explanation now, so I hope you can successfully discriminate between the two phrases now!


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