Archive for November 30, 2010

grammatical word: finally

Businesswoman with fists in air looking up

There is some confusion among many of my students about how to use the grammatical word for today: “finally”. Many people use it to talk about the final results of a situation. It is true we can use it sometimes for this purpose, but the word “finally” does NOT go at the end of the sentence. Also, it is usually used to talk about a situation in which someone is taking time to make a decision. For example:

My brother wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to university, but finally he decided to go.

My company told us that some people might be laid off, but finally they decided not to do it.

The other meaning for “finally” is more commonly used than the first meaning. It is used to talk about a situation in which we are waiting for something for a long time and then, when it happens, we use the word “finally”. For example:

My test results have finally come! I’ve been waiting for over two weeks for them!

My company was delaying giving the employees their bonuses, but last week they finally did it.

A: I’ve brought the pizza.

B: Finally! What took you so long to get here? I’m starving!

The word “finally” is often used by itself, as in the third example, but it is most commonly put in front of a verb, as in the first two examples. The word indicates that we have been impatiently waiting for something.

When we use the word “finally” with the first meaning, we don’t emphasize it when speaking, but when we use the word with the second meaning, we must emphasize it when speaking.

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