Using Begin or Start

Usually these two words can be used interchangeably. They denote coming into being, a first step, a first action.
However, there are situations where one is preferred over the other: we usually use “start”to refer to an activity; it implies that something goes from inaction to action. It is also a little more informal.
“Begin” is often used for more official proceedings.
Let’s check some examples:
“Let us begin this meeting with a presentation by the director of finance”
In this example, we could also use “start” but because it is a more formal environment, “begin” works a little better.
“Oh no! My time machine won’t start again..”
When we are talking about machines and making them work, we always use “start”. You cannot “begin” your washing machine, your car, the lawnmower, etc.
If you are using the continuous tenses with the verbs “to start” or “to begin”, followed by another verb, it is better if you use the infinitive forms and not the gerund.
“It is beginning to rain sulphuric acid” (not “raining”, although it is also correct, it does not sound very good with the double -ing).
Other synonyms
Other verbs that have a similar meaning to “begin” or “start” are: “commence” and “initiate”. These two verbs are more formal. “Commence” usually stresses the beginning of a formal event and “initiate” is used to describe the first steps in a process


The director commenced the ceremony”
Kamir initiated the lawsuit against his former boss”
When did you begin learning your English?
The meeting didn’t start until 11pm.
As Alexander the Great rules, If his soldiers were to begin to think, not one of them would remain loyal to him.

Points to Remember:
to start up the computer (phrasal verb : start up)
you can't say : to begin up the computer.

- As in intransitive verb 'to start' someone doing something means to cause someone to do something :
What he said started me thinking.
You can't use here 'began' me thinking.

- In the sense of switching on a machine.
"He started the engine. ( not began the engine)

- 'to start on something' means to begin in working or dealing with something.
"She started on the cakes" ( started eating them).
Not interchangeable with 'begin..'

- 'to bring into being' meaning to arise or originate ,you can't use 'to start into being'
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