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"At first" and "first"
Beginning of a situation[edit | edit source]
We use "at first" to talk about the beginning of a situation, to make a contrast with something different that happens/happened later. "At first". . . is often followed by but.
- At first they were very happy, but then things started going wrong.
- The work was hard at first, but I got used to it.
In other cases[edit | edit source]
In other cases, we usually prefer first.
- That's mine - I saw it first! (not . . .I saw it at first.)
- We lived there when we were first married. (= . . . in the early days of our marriage.) (not . . . when we were at first married.)
- First, I want to talk about the history of the problem. Second, I'll outline the situation today. Third, we'll discuss possible solutions. (not... At first, I want to talk . . .)
"First" in the last example is usage in American English. In British English, this example would be expressed as:
- Firstly, I want to talk about the history of the problem. Secondly, I'll outline the situation today. Thirdly, we'll discuss possible solutions.
Other Lessons[edit | edit source]
- Most Common Greek Roots
- Almost and nearly; practically
- Words with different spellings
- English words of Arabic origin
- List of words with a silent 'H'
- At Home
- Tricky words
- Difference between verbs See Watch Look
- Asking Directions