“At the beginning” or “In the beginning”?

Well, yesterday’s tip was about the difference between “at the end” and “in the end. You learned that “at the end” is usually said “at the end of” and it is related to end of something. You also learned that “in the end” is synonymous of “finally“.
I guess you understood it and now you can make use of it. However, I made a huge mistake. Yeah! Something went wrong yesterday and I hope you forgive me. To make me feel better I decided to mention my mistake here and then you’ll learn something new.
If you read Inglês na Ponta da Língua tips on your email, you’ll have to correct the part I wrote “they use ‘at the end of’ as the opposite of ‘in the beginning’“. This is wrong. Sorry about that. The correct thing to say is: “they use ‘at the end of’ as the opposite of ‘at the beginning’“. That is, the opposite of “at the end” is actually “at the beginning“. Now, what’s the difference in saying “at the beginning” or “in the beginning“?
At the beginning” is related to the first part of something. So, you can say “at the beginning of the class“, “at the beginning of the book“, “at the beginning of a new career“, “at the beginning of March“, etc. Notice that we also use “of” after “at the beginning“. It’s also possible to notice that “at the beginning of” is the opposite of “at the end of“.
On the other hand, “in the beginning” is a synonym of “at first“, which in Portuguese means “no princípio” or “a princípio“. Take a look at the examples below and notice how it is used:
  • In the beginning, I didn’t like her. But then, I realized she is a wonderful person.
  • They were really rude to us in the beginning.
  • In the beginning, things were much easier.
In the beginning” can also be used with the preposition “of“. For examples:
  • In the beginning of my career, I would accept any kind of contract.
  • I got pregnant in the beginning of my studies. So, I had to quit college.
  • In the beginning of the 21st century, lots of things started to happen.
Some dictionaries say that the use of “at” or “in” with “the beginning of” is interchangeable in some contexts. That means, that you can use one preposition or the other. However, the best thing to learn is that “in the beginning” usually covers a much longer period and “at the beginning” refers to a specific moment in time.
Well, I hope you have understood this. In some contexts there is a difference. But on others, you can use one or the other. You’ll really learn this by paying attention to the use of English. So, keep your eyes and ears wide open so as to notice how these two combinations are usually used in daily English.
That’s it for today, guys. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip. Take care.
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