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In conversation with 2 native German speakers I said:

Agnes, die beim ersten Alarm aus ihre Unterkunft eilte, eilte rasch durch die erschütternde Straßen, um ihren Geliebte zu suchen.

Sie fand ihn endlich.

And they corrected me to:

Sie fand ihn schließlich.

Do you agree with their correction and, if so, why?

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    Some small errors in the first sentence: "Agnes, die beim ersten Alarm aus ihrer Unterkunft eilte, eilte rasch durch die erschütternden Straßen, um ihren Geliebten zu suchen."
    – HalvarF
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 5:03
  • I wouldn't accept the correction. in this context, the two words mean exactly the same.
    – tofro
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 5:14
  • 2
    While the sight might have been "erschütternd", I don't really know in which way the street itself would have been "erschütternd" in this context? Shouldn't it rather be "[...] erschütterten Straßen [...]"?
    – Lykanion
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 7:29
  • She was searching the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, shortly after the devastating earthquake of 1755 had struck.
    – user44591
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 13:40

3 Answers 3

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You can use both, I would use schießlich in this context, but it's close and you should probably not worry about it.

Schließlich (ultimately, in the end) is fitting here because it's about the conclusion of the process of searching in a third-person perspective.

Endlich (finally, at last) takes a personal perspective, it's always about a hope being finally fulfilled. It would be appropriate for a longer, more detailed account of her search from her view that draws the reader into the moment. In this context, endlich is less about conclusion of the search process and more about finding the person as a desired event that happens.

On the one hand, I think the description of the search is a bit too short to warrant endlich. On the other hand, you're already taking a subjective view by using erschütternd, so endlich doesn't seem out of place either.

You can find more about the difference between schließlich and endlich here:

What's the difference between "endlich" and "schließlich"?

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I would say that endlich is rather used for cases where you wait for something, and it finally happens.

Schließlich is okay in your case, but I'd suggest to use "schlussendlich", which fits even better in my opinion:

Schlussendlich fand sie ihn.

Please also be aware that in the first sentence, there are some mistakes:

Agnes, die beim ersten Alarm aus ihrer Unterkunft eilte, eilte rasch durch die erschütternden Straßen, um ihren Geliebten zu suchen.

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The difference between "endlich" and "schließlich" is mostly on the emotional level. If you're emotionally invested and then finally, finally something happens, you'd use "endlich". You can image a sigh of relief with it ;)

On the other hand, "schließlich" is much more neutral emotionally. You're reporting that something happened at the end of time period, at the end of an action or the like, but you're not really invested in it.

We can assume that Agnes was very happy and relieved when she finally found her loved one alive and well. So in this case, "endlich" would probably be the better choice.

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  • The sentence sounds more like a part of a novel than a coversation. Without any context I totally agree: endlich is the better choice.
    – Olafant
    Commented Apr 29, 2021 at 9:56

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