English Lesson: Start vs Begin

Michael Uncategorized 2 Comments

As you probably know, I began teaching English formally in 1994. My career stared in Japan, where I worked for four years. Living in a foreign country was a great experience. Many things were the same, but a lot of things were different. Starting a new life abroad is full of challenges.  I remember the first winter I lived in Japan. I couldn’t figure out how to start the heater in my apartment. Wow…lots of good memories!

Start and begin have the same meaning, but in some cases we need to choose one or the other. Do you know how to use these words? Have a look at the paragraph above once more, and then check today’s lesson.

In most cases, you can use start or begin:

  • I began teaching English formally in 1994
  • I started teaching English formally in 1994
  • Starting a new life abroad is full of challenges.  
  • Beginning a new life abroad is full of challenges.  

In more formal situation, we generally use begin, and we use start in more casual situations.

  • The conference will begin on Thursday, so I will arrive on Wednesday.
  • What time will the CEO begin his presentation?
  • Look outside. It is starting to snow!
  • I need to start going to the gym more often.

In some cases, we cannot use begin. For example when we talk about taking a trip, we use start:

  • Let’s start our road trip early in the morning when there traffic is light
  • We started in Boston and drove all the way to Miami.

When we talk about machines and appliances, we use start:

  • Something’s wrong. I can start the engine.
  • Every time I start the computer, it shuts down.

When did you start studying English? Did you start by yourself, or did you begin with a teacher?

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