Expressing the beginning and end of a period or space

To express the beginning or end of a period, month, season, for example "at the beginning of January..." or "at the end of the summer..." we use the following:

  • A principios de...= At the beginning of...
  • A mediados de... mid ...
  • A finales de... At the end of...

For example:

A principios de mayo tenemos fiestas en mi pueblo.At the beginning of May we have festivities in my town.

A mediados de abril termino el contrato con esta empresa.I finish my contract with this company mid-April.

Le informaremos sobre la aceptación del préstamo a finales de este mes.We'll inform you about the acceptance of the loan at the end of this month.

Note that we don't use the article "los" (the) like in English: at the beginning of...; Also note that we use the words in plural, not in singular: principios, mediados (not principio, not mediado).

For "at the beginning of..." we sometimes use "A comienzos de...",  although it is slightly more formal than "a principios de...":

 
A comienzos de la década de los 70...At the beginning of the 70s...

For "at the end of..." we sometimes use it in singular: a final de...

A finales de agosto volvemos a casa a la rutina.At the end of August we return home to our routine.

A final de agosto volvemos a casa a la rutina.At the end of August we return home to our routine.

To refer to the beginning or end of a space the expressions are slightly different, i.e. if you are referring to the beginning of a street, in the middle of a classroom... In this case we use:

Al principio de... = at the beginning of...

En mitad de... / En medio de... = in the middle of...

Al final de... = at the end of...

For example:

Al principio del libro podéis ver el índice con todos los temas.At the beginning of the book you can see the table of contents with all the topics.

Había un coche aparcado en mitad de la calle.There was a car parked in the middle of the street.

La orquesta estaba tocando en medio de la plaza.The band was playing in the middle of the square.

Los servicios están al final del pasillo, a la izquierda.The toilets are at the end of the corridor, on the left.

Remember not to mix them up. These would be incorrect:

Talking about space

La farmacia está muy cerca, a principios de esta calle. 

La farmacia está muy cerca, al principio de esta calle. (correct)

The chemist is very close, at the beginning of this street.

Talking about period

Me voy a mudar a otra ciudad en el medio de octubre.

Me voy a mudar a otra ciudad a mediados de octubre.

I am moving to another city in the middle of October.

Look out for the contraction "del" if there is a masculine noun, for example:

"a finales del mes que viene"

"en medio del pasillo"

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Examples and resources

La orquesta estaba tocando en medio de la plaza.The band was playing in the middle of the square.
Le informaremos sobre la aceptación del préstamo a finales de este mes.We'll inform you about the acceptance of the loan at the end of this month.
Había un coche aparcado en mitad de la calle.There was a car parked in the middle of the street.
A principios de mayo tenemos fiestas en mi pueblo.At the beginning of May we have festivities in my town.
Al principio del libro podéis ver el índice con todos los temas.At the beginning of the book you can see the table of contents with all the topics.
Los servicios están al final del pasillo, a la izquierda.The toilets are at the end of the corridor, on the left.
A mediados de abril termino el contrato con esta empresa.I finish my contract with this company mid-April.
A final de agosto volvemos a casa a la rutina.At the end of August we return home to our routine.
A comienzos de la década de los 70...At the beginning of the 70s...
A finales de agosto volvemos a casa a la rutina.At the end of August we return home to our routine.
Let me take a look at that...