December 14


At the end vs. In the end


Hi everyone, you’re listening to Cambridge Exam Coach, a podcast for people who want to improve their English.

I’m Kristian, your host, and in this episode we’re talking about the difference between ‘at the end’ and ‘in the end’.

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’.
And this phrase can also mean the end point of a period of time.

Here are some examples:

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 ‘eventually’.

Here are two examples:

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.

Let me give you a final example about my personal life.

Let’s imagine that my parents asked me in October 2020: ‘Will you visit us in the Netherlands at the end of this year?’

In this example we’re talking about a specific moment in time. The final moment of the year. Got it?

Then I replied to my parents: ‘I’m not sure, it depends on the travel restrictions.’

Now, let’s imagine it’s January 2021 and a friend in Prague asks me: ‘Did you spend Christmas with your family in the Netherlands?’

Then I answer her: ‘No, in the end I couldn’t go because of the lock down.’

So, I considered going to the Netherlands, but ‘eventually’ I decided not to go.

Did you get that? I think you got it.

All right, that’s all for today.

Take care of yourself, and each other, and I’ll speak to you on the podcast soon, but for now it’s time to say bye bye!

P.S. If at the end of this episode you don’t quite understand, listen to it again. In the end, you might find it useful.

About the author 


Kristian is from The Netherlands, but he lives in Prague, Czechia. He is a CELTA qualified teacher who passed the Cambridge C2 Proficiency exam with grade A. When he's not working, he likes to chill out with music, podcasts or an audiobook.


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