En fin de compte, je préfère le thé au café.
ah faa duh KAWT, zhuh pray-FAIR luh TAY oh kaa-FAY. Click below to hear this pronounced!
When push comes to shove, I prefer tea to coffee.
So many ways to say this in English! The popular one, these days, is At the end of the day. But I like my tea at the beginning of the day, and besides, I hear this English cliché too often, so I avoid saying it whenever possible, which is most of the time. You could say Ultimately or All things considered.
You could also say I like tea better than coffee. That works just as well, especially if you won’t touch coffee with a ten-foot pole. Préférer is just one verb you can use in French to express this idea, but we’ll come back to that one another time.
Literally, en fin de compte means something like at the end of the accounting. When you finish the bookkeeping, you have presumably uncovered a truth: you are in the black, or in the red; you have spent more money on cell phone services than you thought; or you never really use that other credit card, and could cancel it.
The phrase is used to sum up the various options or considerations, even if you don’t do it out loud. It’s really just a sort of transitional phrase, which makes you look like a thoughtful person (at least you hope it does): you have considered all factors, and here is the conclusion you have arrived at. It’s not really a confrontational phrase, so it’s up to you to decide whether you need to be prepared to defend your position!