Begin vs Start

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Artrella, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. Artrella Banned

    Hi People!

    What is the difference between these two words? I was taught that they are synonyms but if so, why are there two different words?

    Thank you! :)
  2. te gato

    te gato Senior Member

    Calgary, Alberta
    Alberta--TGE (te gato English)
    Hi Art;
    This might help you out a bit..Yes you are correct they are indeed synonyms and mean the same thing...

    Synonyms: begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate
    These verbs denote coming into being or taking the first step, as in a procedure. Begin, commence, and start are equivalent in meaning, though commence is more formal, and start often stresses the point where inaction turns to action: The play begins at eight o'clock. The festivities commenced with the national anthem. We will stay on the platform until the train starts. Initiate applies to causing the first steps in a process: I initiated a lawsuit against the driver who hit my car. Inaugurate often connotes a formal beginning: “The exhibition inaugurated a new era of cultural relations”

    I hope that I have been of some having you begin to understand the differences..:D
    te gato;)
  3. garryknight Senior Member

    Kent, UK
    UK, English
    I think it's just a matter of etymology. The roots of the English language come from many parts of the world.

    begin: Old English beginnan; related to Old High German biginnan, Gothic duginnan

    start: Old English styrtan; related to Old Norse sterta to crease, Old High German sturzen to rush

    and, while we're at it:
    commence: from Old French comencer, from Vulgar Latin cominitare, from Latin com- (intensive) + initiare to begin, from initium a beginning
  4. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    Well, there are some differences between the two.

    You can start a car or lawnmover, but you can't begin them.
    You can begin the movie, but you normally start it.
    You start any machine and you also start your bath water.

    I would say begin has a higher register than start.
  5. Dandee

    Dandee Senior Member

    Argentina, español
    Start & begin
    Big & large Moderator note: one question per thread, please.

    For these two pair of words. What is the diference between these terms?. Have them any particular meanings that suggest the use of one instead of the other?.

    Thank you in advance.

  6. jdenson

    jdenson Senior Member

    Houston, Texas
    USA / English
    Hi Dandee,
    I made a couple of corrections, above. Start and begin can often be used interchangeably:
    I started/began classes today.
    She starts/begins each sentence with "well".
    There are some exceptions, however. For example, you start an engine.
    There may be situations in which big and large are not interchangeable, but I can't think of one.
  7. rich7 Senior Member

    Venezuela español
    I've had this discussion in class and I wanted to know natives' opinions.

    Also, i'd like to hear about grammar rules and colloquial usage.
  8. giannid

    giannid Senior Member

    USA English
    I don't see any difference between the 2 words with the exception that Start is only one syllable and is probably more common in spoken English.
  9. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Start usually refers to an activity - The game will start at 4:00. Begin is used for official proceedings - Class will begin on time.
  10. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Let's start at the very beginning
    A very good place to start
    When you read you begin with A-B-C
    When you sing you begin with do-re-mi
  11. User1001 Senior Member

    American English
    It sounds fine if you swap them though.

    * Let's begin at the very start
    * A very good place to begin
    * When you read, you start with A-B-C
    * When you sign, you start with do-re-mi
  12. gilesalban New Member

    English - UK
    Start usually implies that something moves from inaction to action, without there being, necessarily, any development from then on.
    Begin implies that the new action is capable of developing further.

    Given that this nuance is quite subtle, the words are generally synonymous.


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