Begin or Start

Begin or Start

By Alena Lien, 

27 August 2020



"Start" (verb) means "to begin doing something." 


"Begin" (verb) means "to start to happen or exist."



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Differences


1.   "Start" has more definitions than "begin."


"Start" can mean "to cause something to happen." This includes causing a machine to work or creating a business etc.


  • "I've been having trouble starting the car."

Not - "I've been having trouble beginning the car."


  • "Things have been going well since we started the business."

Not - "Things have been going well since we began the business."


  • "Start a movement to change the world."

Not - "Begin a movement to change the world."

However - "A movement began to change the world."



"Start" can also mean "to move your body suddenly because of fright or surprise."


  • "He started at the sound of the doorbell."

Not - "He began at the sound of the doorbell."



2.   There are more expressions/idioms with "start."


Begin:

  • "To begin with"

  • "Can't even begin"



Start:

  • "From start to finish"

  • "For a start"

  • "Start out"

  • "Start over"

  • "Start something off"

  • "Start on something"

  • "Start something up"

  • "A fresh start"

  • "A head start"



3.   "Begin" is considered more formal and polite.


Compare:

  • "When do we begin?"

  • "When do we start?"



4.   "Begin" is considered more gradual; "Start" is considered more sudden.


Compare:


  • "The number of views began to increase when I uploaded more videos."

  • "The number of views started to increase when I uploaded more videos."


  • "I was beginning to fall asleep."

  • "I was starting to fall asleep."