What is the difference of "to reach the end" and "to finish", when used transitively? Example:

  • I have finished (my) lunch.
  • I have reached the end of my lunch.

I know the latter is much less usual, but I'm only concerned with the difference of meaning here. I have been told recently that the latter does not imply that I have finished lunch (for instance, I could be in the last course of the meal). Is that true?

  • "Terminei o meu almoço." e "Cheguei ao final do meu almoço". Você diria este último? To reach the end of my rope (idiom), that yes. "reach the end of something" is for (a) distance.
    – Lambie
    Sep 20, 2019 at 14:54
  • Indeed the latter sentence is not usual, as I have mentioned in my question. I would not say it neither in English nor in any other language. Anyway, I have read it in a text and I need to understand exactly what it means. Sep 20, 2019 at 14:57
  • It would never be used. I translated it for you into Portuguese and it makes no sense in Portuguese either, as you can clearly see.
    – Lambie
    Sep 20, 2019 at 14:59
  • "finish" means completion of a task or effort. "reach the end" implies some sort of continuous effort; as you reach the end, you have finished. Sep 20, 2019 at 15:48
  • 1
    If you had a long lunch hour and your time was up you might say, 'I've reached the end of my lunch.'
    – dwilli
    Sep 21, 2019 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


It's a bit of a bizarre construction, especially combined with 'lunch' but I'd say that what you've been told is true:

  • to be "finished" is clear-cut, you're done with the object of the sentence.
  • to have "reached the end" is a little ambiguous, and while it might mean you're done, it may also imply just that you're at the end stage of the object of the sentence.

It would only work with an object that has a degree of length/complexity to it and at least some separation of stages, in my opinion. Here's an example that might be a little more idiomatic:

"I've finished the book." -- I read the whole thing.

"I've reached the end of the book." -- I might have read the whole thing, but I also might have read up to the last chapter, and not totally finished it yet.

I would lean toward the second interpretation partially because there are so many simpler ways of saying that you're finished.

  • 1
    Thanks! I think I'd prefer to say "I'm about to finish the book" or "I'm near the end of the book" instead of using this ambiguous expression "to reach the end" when the second meaning is intended. Sep 20, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    @AlanEvangelista Yes, those are much better options.
    – Katy
    Sep 20, 2019 at 16:18

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