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Begin vs Start

Begin or Start

The verbs Begin and Start are virtually interchangeable, and both verbs can be transitive or intransitive, but Start is commonly used in spoken English.  
  • It started/began to snow. [=It started/began snowing.]
  • When I gave her the bad news, she started/began to cry.
  • I got a job at a hotel and I begin/start work on Monday.
  • I started/began (reading) this book a few days ago.
  • When did the concert begin/start?
  • The word ‘animal’ begins/starts with the letter ‘a’.


Begin is an irregular verb; its three forms are begin, began, begun. Begin is a little more formal than Start.
  • Let us begin the meeting by reviewing the results.

We use Begin to mean ‘to start speaking’.
  • ‘Good evening everybody’, he began, ‘Welcome to the show’.
  • ‘Good evening everybody’’, he started,…
  • I don’t know how to begin.


Start is a regular verb; its three forms are start, started, started.
Start, but not Begin, is used to mean ‘to create a business or organization’.
  • I decided to start a retail shop.
  • to begin a retail shop.
  • He started his own company after graduating from college.

Start, but not Begin, is used to mean ‘to switch on a machine or engine’ or ‘to make them work’.
  • He started the car and drove home.
  • He began the car
  • At last the car started.

We can use ‘off’, ‘up’ or ‘out’ after Start.
  • She started up her own small business.
  • The car won’t start up.
  • We’ll start the meal off with chicken soup.
  • The day started out beautifully.


Commence (formal) and Kick off (informal) are the other verbs that mean ‘to start or begin’
  • She commenced her teaching career in New York.
  • The contract commences on the first day of the fiscal year.
  • Tonight's game kicks off at 3 pm.

In summary, there is not a significant difference between Begin and Start, and they have almost the same meaning, but Begin is not possible to use in some cases.

Start or Begin


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