Organizational adverbs

Since I started to teach in Japan, I have noticed a recurrent problem with adverb use, namely the use of and difference between certain organizational adverbs – specifically after all, finally, at last, in the end, and  eventually. Theses are unfortunately all translated as “ついに” or “結局は” in Japanese, but that doesn’t always work in English. Here is an explanation.

1. After all means “in spite of what was said before” or “contrary to what was expected.”


  • I really wanted to come, but I can’t come after all.
  • I expected to fail the exam, but I passed after all.

2. After all is also used to add information that shows that what you have just said is true. Maybe だって is close in Japanese.


  • I do like her; after all, she is my sister.
  • Mary has final approval of the guest list; after all, it’s her wedding.

1. introduces the last element in a series; it is used in a list. = lastly


  • We must increase productivity. We must reduce unemployment.
  • And finally, we must compete in world markets.

2. suggests- very strongly – the idea of impatience or inconvenience resulting from a long wait or delay. It also conveys the feeling of relief. やっと! って感じ


  • Takeshi has finally passed his exams!
  • You are finally home! I have been so worried!

is the same as no. 2 -“finally” but it is a little more formal.


  • Takeshi has passed his exams at last!
  • You are home at last! I have been so worried!

suggests that something happens after a lot of changes or dilemmas (problems). There is little emotion involved. It is usually used in the past tense.


  • We made eight different plans for our holiday, but in the end we went to New York again.

is used when something happens after a long time or after a lot of effort.


  • The car didn’t want to start, but eventually I got it going.
  • If you practice English often, eventually you will become very skilled.

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