Least favourite words

mike   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 17:48 GMT

I have a question for a native. I'd be most grateful if you'd answer me.

What's the difference between 'at the beginning' and 'in the beginning'. My dictionary says something about it but I can't make head or tail of it. Could you please give me an example in a sentence and provide some detailed and easy explanation.

Thanks a lot.
mjd   Tuesday, April 13, 2004, 19:40 GMT
"In the beginning" usually gives the feeling of before something was created or before something existed.

Take the quote for Genesis: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

This passage deals with the beginning of time...i.e. before anything existed.

"In the beginning" = initially

"In the beginning, John wasn't an alcoholic. He'd just go out with his friends on weekends." (This is alluding to a time when John wasn't drinking to excess...before it got out of control).

"At the beginning": "At" usually deals with location, so this is alluding to a starting boot.

"One has to start reading a book at the beginning. Generally, this is page 1."

"To read a thread in this forum, one must start at the beginning of the page and scroll down."

I hope I've made some sense here.
Jim   Wednesday, April 14, 2004, 05:37 GMT
Mjd & Mike,

Yeah, I think that makes sense ... except I wouldn't necessarily say "before".


"at the beginning" = "at the place where something starts"

"in the beginning" = "at the time when something starts"

... of course, things could get more complicated depending on context.


Yeah, I know how the words have been defined. My problem is that I don't think that they are fitting definitions.
mjd   Wednesday, April 14, 2004, 05:54 GMT
Yeah, that's probably a better way to describe it, Jim. Sometimes it's difficult to put a coherent explanation down.
Definition of CRAP   Thursday, April 15, 2004, 04:13 GMT
(n.) In the game of craps, a first throw of the dice in which the total is two, three, or twelve, in which case the caster loses.
Belle   Thursday, April 15, 2004, 04:16 GMT
My least favourite word is HATE
mike   Friday, April 16, 2004, 16:59 GMT
Thanks a lot mjd and Jim. It helped a great deal. Would you agree that 'in the beginning' refers to more abstract ideas and 'at the beginning' to more tangible ones?
Alice   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 16:09 GMT
'Kunt' (in German) I think I sometimes mispronounce it!
Alice   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 18:51 GMT
In case anyone is wondering, that Alice isn't this Alice. Maybe it's a faker, maybe it's another Alice, I just don't know. But it wasn't the Alice who's been posting here since October.
wassabi   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 20:41 GMT
my least favourite word is "werd" b/c it's so over-used
What   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 21:10 GMT
What's ''werd''.
Don't say ain't   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 21:48 GMT
What about ''ain't''?
Thaieweup   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 22:49 GMT
Politically correct How can a persons view of politics be incorrect it is their view? This must be some form of facism t silence people with a different way of thinking. pc = thought police