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I am a little confused with the translations of "finally" to Italian presented in https://www.wordreference.com/enit/finally because it groups together two expressions which seem completely unrelated to me: "alla fine" and "finalmente".

AFAIK, "alla fine" = "at the end" (of something) and "finalmente" = "finally", "at last". Examples:

  • È arrivata alla fine del pomeriggio
  • Finalmente siamo riusciti ad arrivare a casa dopo mezzanotte.

This example given in WR seems odd to me:

  • Alla fine siamo riusciti ad arrivare a casa dopo mezzanotte.

Could "alla fine" be indeed used like this, without a complement and as a synonym of "finally" ? Is it usual?

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The problem with tools such as WordReference is that they present sentences out of context. Both

Alla fine siamo riusciti ad arrivare a casa
Finalmente siamo riusciti ad arrivare a casa

are good. However, the clause dopo mezzanotte will probably require alla fine, because who speaks is telling about some adventurous trip.

The second sentence would be correct without the clause, as an exclamation of relief.

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  • Could you please give more details about the difference of meaning (if any) between "alla fine" and "finalmente" in this context? Oct 4 '19 at 12:53
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    In the first sentence it's eventually, in the second one it's at last.
    – egreg
    Oct 4 '19 at 13:01
  • Thanks. Regarding the reason you gave why "dopo mezzanotte" requires "alla fine", it seems to me that "finalmente" usually focus on a fact (eg arriving somewhere) and "alla fine" has no such restriction; it may include only the fact or also include the conditions of the fact (arriving somewhere tired, unscathed, at midnight). It seems to me that the person is not necessarily telling about some adventurous trip, eg they may have worked in the office until 11 PM. Oct 4 '19 at 13:25
  • @AlanEvangelista Still alla fine would be used. It's quite rare that finalmente stands for finally: it's a typical pair of false friends, similar to eventualmente and eventually (which actually mean opposite things).
    – egreg
    Oct 4 '19 at 13:30
  • The meaning of "finalmente" is explained in this answer. "Alla fine" in your example would be the same as "da ultimo".
    – Charo
    Oct 4 '19 at 14:56

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