Common Mistakes : Beginning
BAD: In the beginning of the century people travelled from Britain to Egypt by sea.
GOOD: At the beginning of the century people travelled from Britain to Egypt by sea.
First / First of all / At first/ In/At the beginning
First, firstly and first of all First, firstly and first of all = introduce the first item in a list or sequence. The next item is normally introduced by then or second/secondly : ‘First, open all the windows. Then turn off the gas and, if necessary, call an ambulance.’ ‘These new computers have several advantages. First of all, they’re faster than the older machines. Secondly, they’re far easier to use. And thirdly, they’re more reliable.
At first At first = introduces a situation which is in contrast with a later situation (after a change has taken place): ‘At first I didn’t like the climate, but after two years I got used to it.’
In the beginning Like at first, in the beginning = introduces a situation which is in contrast with a later situation.
However, in the beginning is less common and suggests that the speaker is looking a long way back into the past to the period of time immediately after something began: ’In the beginning, when the first settlers arrived, law and order didn’t exist.’
At the beginning = refers to (1) the point in time when something begins: ’At the beginning of each lesson there is usually a revision exercise.’(۲) the place where something begins: ’At the beginning of the novel there is a long description of the farm where Daniel was born and grew up.
Unlike in the beginning , at the beginning is usually followed by of : ’at the beginning of the week/holiday/film’.
BAD: At the beginning, I thought that the switch was broken but then I discovered it was a fuse.
GOOD: At first, I thought that the switch was broken but then I discovered it was a fuse.
See language note above
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