“At The Beginning” vs “In The Beginning”


These two Phrases are very similar — and quite-often, they are used inter-changeably.  However — there is actually a very distinct difference between the two.  And — even though a great-many 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 Or A Moment In Time

At The Beginning - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!


“In The Beginning” Is Referring To A Period Of Time

In The Beginning - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

Examples Of Usage

However — it should be noted that some people may use the phrase “At The Beginning” to talk about a Period Of Time (and the logic of this is debatable issue) — but the phrase “In The Beginning” should NOT be used to talk about a specific Moment In Time…  (because it just does not 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.” 😉

At the beginning of a the lesson, the teacher usually discusses what will be learned.”

—  Here we are talking about a Moment In Time.  However — this is also an example of the debatability mentioned above, because:  “the teacher discussing something” would last for a Period Of Time.  But this is more of a philosophical debate and, ultimately, does not change the meaning or the end result of what we are discussing here…  So it doesn’t really matter. 😎

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 Of Time, could last for a considerable amount of “time” within the story, or it could last for only an instant…  It depends on the story 😎


  • At The Beginning = For A Specific Place (SOMETIMES for a Period Of Time)
  • In The Beginning = For A Period Of Time  (NEVER for a Specific Place)

Additional Notes About The Use Of Prepositions

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 native English speakers use these prepositions improperly — you can be happy about the fact that you know more about proper English Grammar & Usage than they do…  (Just don’t try to tell them that) 😎

Have An Excellent Day!




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