Dictionaries state that "at the beginning" is often used with of. For example, at the beginning of the month/book/movie and so on. But I assume of isn't obligatory, right?

Cambridge Dictionary gives such an example:

I enjoyed my job at/in the beginning (= when I started it), but I'm bored with it now.

Well, is it ok to say something like this?

This really is a very large field and we are just at the beginning.

  • Your quote from Cambridge answers your question, doesn't it? You can leave off the additional information "but I'm bored with it now" (arguably that's redundant anyway) and end up with "at the beginning."
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 10:11
  • 1
    "Begin at the beginning, go on until you come to the end, and then stop." (The King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland) Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 11:49
  • Yes, your last sentence is perfectly fine. You don't need "of" when it's obvious what it's the beginning of.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:18
  • 'We are just at the beginning' is far more idiomatic than 'we are just in the beginning'. But usually, as a temporal adjunct, 'in the beginning' is more idiomatic. 'I really struggled with this in the beginning, but ....' Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 18:48

3 Answers 3


All your questions answered Google ngram (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=at+the+beginning+*&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3)

enter image description here

For results of phrase search in books you can press the buttons below the graph. Yes you can use "at the beginning" without "of".


I would go for

In the beginning

That would be uncontroversial.


Yes, you can use "at the beginning" without "of" You can say, "At the beginning, start!" You could say, "When you are at the beginning again, compute the numbers."

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