Difference Between Begin and Start

Begin vs Start

Begin and Start are two verbs (sometimes used as nouns too) that are often confused when it comes to their meanings. Strictly speaking there is some difference between the two although both of them are sometimes interchangeable.

Observe the two sentences

1. I began swimming when I was five.

2. He started horse-riding at the age of twelve.

In both the sentences we get the same meaning by the use of the two words, namely, ‘began’ and ‘started’. The most important observation here is that the word ‘start’ is more informal usage when compared to the word ‘begin’. In other words the word ‘begin’ is used in the formal style.

Observe the two sentences

1. It is beginning to rain

2. It is starting to rain.

The second sentence looks more formal and natural than the first sentence. In other words it is quite natural to say ‘it is starting to rain’ rather than ‘it is beginning to rain’. This is one of the few differences between the two words begin and start.

We can use only ‘start’ in some cases. Look at this sentence. You can see that you cannot use ‘begin’

I think we have to start before it rains.

In the sentence given above it is better to use the word ‘start’ instead of ‘begin’ that might look odd. It would look awkward to say ‘I think we have to begin before it rains’ in case you intend to travel to some place. Hence it is understood that you should use the word ‘start’ if you intend ‘travel’. This is one of the important rules in the usage of the verb ‘start’.

The word ‘begin’ can be used if the intention of ‘work’ is suggested as in the sentence ‘Let us begin (the work) now’.