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Do you know when we use “begin” and when we use “start”?
Begin or Start?
Most of the time, these two words can be used interchangeably. They denote coming into being, a first step, a first action.
However, there are situations where one is preferred over the other: we usually use “start”to refer to an activity; it implies that something goes from inaction to action. It is also a little more informal.
“Begin” is often used for more official proceedings.
Let’s look at some examples:
“Let us begin this meeting with a presentation by the director of finance”
In this example, we could also use “start” but because it is a more formal environment, “begin” works a little better.
“Oh no! My car won’t start again..”
When we are talking about machines and making them work, we always use “start”. You cannot “begin” your washing machine, your car, the lawnmower, etc.
Quick tip: if you are using the continuous tenses with the verbs “to start” or “to begin”, followed by another verb, it is better if you use the infinitive forms and not the gerund.
“It is beginning to snow” (not “snowing”, although it is also correct, it does not sound very good with the double -ing).
Other verbs that have a similar meaning to “begin” or “start” are: “commence” and “initiate”. These two verbs are more formal. “Commence” usually stresses the beginning of a formal event and “initiate” is used to describe the first steps in a process.
“The president commenced the ceremony”
“Susan initiated the lawsuit against her boss”
Did you enjoy this grammar lesson? TWEET IT OUT: I reviewed when to use start and begin with @abaenglish on their blog #esl