in the beginning of / at the beginning of

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by alavalen, Dec 25, 2012.

  1. alavalen New Member

    russian
    I'm wondering if there is any difference in the meaning and using of these two phrases: at the beginning and in the beginning? Thank you.
     
  2. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    Happy Christmas to you, alavalen, and all the other forum users.

    There isn't any difference in meaning between at the beginning of and in the beginning of when this phrase means в начале. There are a couple of previous (rather short) threads in the English Only forum here and here.

    I've heard it said that "at is a place, in is a space", so you may find "in the beginning" where you mean "at some point or stage in the beginning section/part", but I'm not sure that this is 100% reliable.

    I would recommend at the beginning which, I would venture to say, is always right, and much more frequent.

    "The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. `Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.' (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter XII, Lewis Carroll)

    However, there are exceptions:

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (The Bible, St John's Gospel, I)
    (This, of course, is highly literary style.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  3. marco_2 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    It is very interesting what you read, especially that you are a native-speaker, but I'm a bit confused, because all the grammar books I have (R. Murphy, J. Eastwood and M. Hewings) read that you can't say in the beginning of or in the end of . According to these grammarians, in the beginning means first, like in your example ("In the beginning was the Word...") and in the end means finally (We had a lot of problems with our car. In the end we sold it and bought another one). But before of we should use at the beginning / at the end. Maybe it isn't true for a real English - could you explain it?
    P.S. Of course the White Rabbit was supposed to read a letter, that's why the King said "Begin at the beginning /of the letter/.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  4. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    I would tend to agree with your grammar books, marco_2; as I stated in blue in my post, "at" is (probably) always right, and that's what I'd recommend.

    But you'll notice I said you may find "in the beginning" where you mean "at some point or stage in the beginning section/part" ... This is when you mean "the beginning" not in the sense of "the very first thing", but "somewhere (not necessarily right at the start) in the first part or section". In other words, "the beginning" here is not a precise single place or point in time, you are referring to it as a space or a continuum or an extended period, in which you may wish to identify several separate events or trends that happened or developed at different points in that extended period.

    Here are a couple of examples from the net:
    (Source) "In the beginning of the novel, Jim is depicted as simple and trusting, to the point of gullibility. These qualities are not altered during the course of the novel; instead, they are fleshed out and prove to be positives instead of negatives." Here the writer clearly means "in the initial section of the novel", "in the early part of the novel" - during the course of the first few chapters. However, he could also have said "at the beginning..."

    (Source) "At the very end, however, the elation expressed in the beginning of the symphony returns, brought about by a quote from the introduction." The feeling of elation is expressed in the first part or section of the symphony, not in the first note that was played. Again, the writer could also have said "at the beginning".

    So to recap the nuance:
    "At the beginning" = (1) it's the very first thing that happened, or (2) it happened at some stage in the early part.
    "In the beginning" - It happened at some stage in the early part.

    At therefore fits both contexts.
     
  5. alavalen New Member

    russian
     
  6. cheburashka Gena Senior Member

    Russian
     
  7. gvozd

    gvozd Senior Member

    О, Господи... Вы ведать не ведаете, что западный мир празднует Рождество раньше Нового года?
     
  8. cheburashka Gena Senior Member

    Russian
    Зачем они это делают? Дождались бы 7 января, как все.
     
  9. Maroseika Moderator

    Moscow
    Russian
    Уважаемые участники,

    Прошу вас воздержаться от реакции на этот троллинг. Надеюсь, все всё понимают.
     
  10. cheburashka Gena Senior Member

    Russian
    Все, я больше не реагирую. gvozd, хорош троллить.
     

Share This Page