Began vs Begun
Language is a complex network of different tenses and it is imperative that these tenses are used correctly in the correct context. However, when it comes to some verbs, it is extremely difficult to discern the difference between one tense from the other. Began and begun are two such words that are often confused due to this reason.
Began is the past tense of the verb begin, which means to continue to perform the first or earliest part of some action. This could also mean to originate or to be the originator of a particular thing. Synonyms for begin are start, commence and initiate.
Began is used to imply that a certain thing has already started or that the origination of a certain thing has already occurred in the start. Examine the following examples.
• The race began three hours ago.
• My sister began her education at the age of three.
• She began to show signs of distress at the mention of his name.
All three of the above examples refer to events that had occurred in the past.
Begun is the past participle of the verb begin. It cannot be used by itself as a verb and has to be used along with another verb that supports it. It is used to give a sense of the past at the same time implying that the action may not be completed just yet. Examine the following examples.
• The play has just begun.
• I have begun my course on pottery.
• The company has begun to make a profit.
In the above examples, begun has been used alongside another verb as it cannot be used by itself as a verb. Furthermore, they give the idea that the act that has already started is not complete as of yet.
What is the difference between Begin and Begun?
Began and begun both stem from the same verb ‘begin’ which means to initiate or to start something. However, they belong to two different tenses and one tense cannot be substituted with the other when it comes to using them in appropriate contexts.
• Began is the past tense of the verb begin. Begun is the past participle of the verb begin.
• Began can be used by itself as a verb. Begun cannot be used by itself as a verb and has to be complemented by another verb in order to use it in a sentence. For example,
– The school began its operations three years ago.
– The play had begun a while back.