“At The Beginning” vs “In The Beginning”

These two Phrases are very similar, and quite-often they are used inter-changeably.  However, there actually is a distinct difference between the two.  And, even though native speakers may use them both in the same way, they shouldn’t.  Here’s why…

“At The Beginning” is referring to a specific place (whether literal or figurative

At The Beginning - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!


“In The Beginning” is referring to a period of time, rather than a specific physical place or moment in time. 

In The Beginning - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

However, it should be noted that, some people may use “At The Beginning” to talk about a period of time, but “In The Beginning” should NOT be used to talk about a specific place, because it just doesn’t work with the preposition “In”.

Prepositional phrases almost always come at the beginning of a sentence.”

–  Here we are talking about a specific place… “At the beginning of the sentence.” 

In the beginning of the story, our hero has not yet discovered the hidden power that he contains with-in himself.”

–  Here we are talking about a period of time…  “In the beginning of the story” – This particular period, could last for a considerable amount of time, given the length of the story, or it could last for an instant. 


This explanation is not a “Rule”.  In fact, many of the so-called, “rules” of Grammar are debatable.  Most of what is called Grammar is more of a description of how the language works, rather than rules for its usage.

Most grammarians would probably argue that point with me, but who the hell wants to argue with a grammarian anyway?  They only make things more complicated.  Language does not need to be complicated.

So Just Remember…

To make this whole situation of whether to use the preposition“at” or “in” with the word, “beginning” a bit easier – just think about it this way:

The preposition “At” implies a specific place 

The preposition“In” implies being “inside” of another thing
(period of time, a boring classroom, a large metal box, etc.

You can not be “In” a place, only a “thing”
(whether material or immaterial

And now, when you hear people use these prepositions improperly, you can be happy about the fact that you are now much smarter than they are…  (Just don’t try to tell them that) 😎

Have An Excellent Day!





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