What's the difference?

End/finish (in the context that things come to an end or come to a finish)

I’ve added that little caveat (in the context that things come to an end or come to a finish) as the Collins Cobuild Dictionary has the word end with around forty-five different meanings, and finish with up to fourteen. But it’s the above sentence that I’m often asked about as regards explaining the difference.

If something comes to an end, such as a book, film, event or even a period of time, then it is the last part of it or the final point in it. That is it – it’s done, complete, and stops. It’s probably never going to happen again. You’ve come to the end of this sentence.

If something comes to a finish, this essentially means that this is the end of this thing or the last part of it. The process has stopped after being done within a particular period of time, although this can be started again at some other point. So if you’re having problems understanding this sentence, maybe you should finish for the time being and try again tomorrow.

 

So although both words (as verbs mainly) are similar in definition, and they are synonyms, the difference lies in the fact that ‘end’ means 'come to a stop' and ‘finish’ means ‘complete what we are doing within a certain time period’.

What's the difference?

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