‘al fin’ VS. ‘al final’

Hello there!

One of my C1-level students of Spanish language (let’s call him Juanito) asked me the other day: what is the difference between “al fin” and “al final” in Spanish? I had to stop for a bit and think twice about it. But after a while I think I was able to give him a decent explanation that I would like to share with you here.

First of all, we have to speak about the word “el final” and “el fin”:

  • el final = the end –> El final del libro no me gustó. / Estamos en la fase final de producción.
  • el fin* = the goal –> Esa empresa persigue fines inmorales.

*–> The problem is that very often “el fin” is used as a synonym for “el final”. But the good news are that this happens mainly on set phrases. Let’s see some examples:

  • Para algunas familias, es difícil llegar a fin de mes. (make ends meet)
  • Este fin de semana vamos a ir al cine. (weekend)
  • Algunos dicen que el fin del mundo está cerca.(world’s end/the end of the world)
  • Tenemos que poner fin a la guerra y el odio entre naciones. (put an end to)
  • ¡Por fin has llegado! = ¡Al fin has llegado! (at last)

 

After all this we can now better say that:

  • al fin = por fin (at last) ¡Al fin dejó de llover! (At last the rain stopped!) o ¡Por fin dejó de llover! (At last the rain stopped!)
  • al final (at the end). Al final no hemos hablado sobre ti (At the end we didn’t speak about you).

MORE: Sometimes we use “al fin” when in English you can use “finally”: After 15 minutes I finally found the keys. –> Después de 15 minutos, por fin encontré las llaves.

MORE: we use “finalmente” as “para terminar” when in English you can use “lastly” o “to sum up”: (Después de una larga presentación) Finalmente, me gustaría recordarles que nuestra reunión de mañana será a las 12:00h. (After a long presentation) Lastly, I would like to remind you that tomorrow’s meeting will be held at 12:00. 

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