What’s the Difference between Spanish Words Beginning with ‘fin’?

A fin, a finales…finalmente which should you use? How to know the difference between Spanish words like these ones?

It is very common when learning Spanish that at some point students will encounter confusing words in Spanish such as a fin, a finales, finalmente… and be struck by how difficult it is sometimes to tell the difference between Spanish words. They all seem so similar! And it can get even more confusing when these constructions include the definitive article ‘el’ (al fin, al final) and seem similar to other words like finalmente. So, are you ready to discover what these constructions actually mean? 

Well, let’s have a look at them and ponder the difference between Spanish words that begin with “fin!”

A fin de

This construction is a connector or prepositional phrase used to express purpose; it simply means ‘in order to’, similar to con objeto de and para. In sentences that express purpose, also known as adverbial clauses of purpose, when the subject of the sentence that introduces the connector is different to the subject of the main sentence you need to include ‘que’: 

  • Fue sin pareja a la celebración a fin de que los paparazzis respetaran la intimidad de su nueva pareja. She went to the party alone so that the paparazzi would respect the intimacy of her new relationship.
  • Fue sin pareja a la celebración a fin de demostrar que no necesitaba a nadie para sentirse segura. She went to the party alone (in order) to demonstrate that she doesn’t need anyone to make her feel confident

On the other hand, remember that the construction a fin de cuentas, used a lot by natives of Spanish, means ‘after all’. You can also use this in the same sense as al fin y al cabo, which in English means ‘at the end of the day’. But be careful! This is not the same as al final del día which translates literally as ‘when the day ends’:

  • La pelea no les duró mucho. Al fin y al cabo, son hermanos. The fight didn’t affect them much. At the end of the day they are brothers.
  • La pelea no les duró mucho. Al final del día, son hermanos [incorrecto]. The fight didn’t affect them much. When the day ends, they are brothers [incorrect]
palabras confusas en español

A fin de y a finales de… 

Although these are different phrases and can seem confusing in Spanish, they are actually used interchangeably to mean ‘the last days, months or years of an indicated period of time’. Therefore, we can say: 

  • Siempre pago mi hipoteca a fin de mes o a finales de mes.  I always pay my mortgage at the end of the month. 

In fact, the expressions llegar a final de mes and llegar a fin de mes are both widely used:

  • Su sueldo no le da para llegar a fin de mes. Her salary doesn’t see her through to the end of the month

Al fin…

This is an expression that is used to indicate, with a sense of relief, that at last something has happened after having overcome all the obstacles on the way:

  • ¡Al fin ha llegado el tren! Llevábamos más de 30 minutos esperándolo. At last the train has arrived! We were waiting more than half an hour.

And if you are wondering if you can change this for por fin, of course you can! The two are interchangeable constructions. 

Al final…

Last but not least, this last expression we chose to include in our guide on how to tell the difference between Spanish words that begin with “fin” might come in handy while travelling to Andalusia. In Spanish this adverbial construction is used to indicate that an action has ended up happening after a certain time:

  • Después de pensarlo bien, (al final) decidimos posponer nuestro viaje. After a lot of thought, we decided to postpone our trip.

It is important not to confuse this with finalmente which means lastly, and we can use it as a connector in lists, not like al final:

  • Finalmente me gustaría darle las gracias una vez más por su apoyo [en una carta]. Lastly, I would like to thank you once again for your help [in a letter]
  • Al final me gustaría darle las gracias una vez más por su apoyo [en una carta]. Lastly I would like to thank you once again for your help [in a letter]

Final is a noun that means ‘the end (of something)’ and therefore we find phrases such as: al final del libro, al final de la película, al final de la historia…making precise reference to the last part of a book, film or story.

If you have any questions regarding the difference between Spanish words with ‘fin’ in them, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We will happily respond!

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