Finally, At last, In the end. Many of my students use these at unnatural times. ‘Finally’, from the New oxford American dictionary says: after a long time, typically involving difficulty or delay. So after a long time or difficulty. “Finally, my friend brought the concert tickets.” “Finally, we finished working on the project.” It can be used in the end also, for a feeling of relief. “My package arrived, finally.” “We were able to understand each other, finally.” Same with “at last”. Feels a little stronger and desperate. “The food came for the refugees at last.” “A doctor found a cure for the disease at last.” “We made it across the Pacific Ocean at last!(in a boat)” ‘In the end’ is what you say when just stating how things ended up. “In the end, we won the competition.” “In the end, there was no easy solution.” “In the end, he was happy he took the trip.” Finally this video is over, and in the end I can rest at last.
Finally, I’ve came back to write an article for English learners. Our team has been working on revolutionary material for English learning, and finally we are back.
I noticed that students frequently mix up the usages of ‘finally’, ‘at last’ and ‘in the end’. In this article, we will focus on ‘finally’ and ‘in the end’.
Speaking about a car her family just bought, a student of mine said: “Finally, we chose orange.”
I felt something fishy about this statement. Although it is grammatically correct, it wasn’t consistent with what they are saying.
They didn’t mention any struggle finding the car they wanted, or any stress that came from having to wait. The family simply desired a different color for the car, and the end result was orange.
In this case ‘in the end’ is more appropriate.
- In the end, we chose orange [instead of red].
- In the end, I went to the game anyway [even though I thought I was too busy].
- He was the best player in the end [even after his terrible start].
The phrase ‘in the end’ is close to the Japanese word, 結局.
Whereas ‘finally’ is normally used to indicate a happening that was waited for more than desired.
- Finally, he paid me back [after 3 months].
- They finally understood what I was trying to say [after 10 minutes of explaining].
- The customers left finally [2 hours after we had closed].
The word ‘finally’ is close to the Japanese word: やっと.
So as you can see finally has the emotion of relief attached to it, and should be used as such. If you say it unintentionally, people will feel there was some mysterious struggle you had.
I’m no confident that you ‘finally’ understand ‘finally’, and that ‘in the end’ you’ll go read our next article ‘at last’.[日本文へ]