To begin and to start

Hello, everybody. I am a Russian. I have been learning English for several months. I saw this interesting site and decided to take a part in this forum. I have a question. Sometimes I say:
I began to learn English
Sometimes I say:
I started to learn English
I don’t see the difference between these expressions

Perhaps, I must say:

I began learning English
I starded learning English
Help me, please
Thank you for your time.

Hi Kat,

Thanks for your interesting question. In all honesty there is not a lot of difference between these two words. One clear difference is that ‘start’ is used with machines/motors and those kinds of things so that we have the expression ‘to start the car’ and also intransitively ‘the engine started’. But perhaps I could offer some suggestions about whether to use ‘start’ or ‘begin’ in the sort of context you have mentioned. Clearly they both give the idea of happening for the first time. You could make a very general comment that ‘start’ has the sense of happening literally for the first time ever and ‘begin’ means happening for the first time within a continuum or a series. So we could say that a child STARTS to speak at a certain age and prior to that has just used single disconnected words but you would say that a lesson/class BEGINS at a certain time . In the first use (START) this is the very beginning and in the second (BEGIN) it is a beginning which is going to happen every day at that time within a series or what you would expect.

To bring these meanings back to your original question I would say: I STARTED to learn/learning English when I was at school but I BEGAN to do/doing the tests this morning (and in this sense it suggests that you were doing the tests before and now you are beginning again this morning)

I hope this helps,

Best wishes


Hello Alan, thank you very much for your very interesting explanation and for your fast answer. I must admit :Sometimes to learn English without teacher’s explanation is a really difficult task.
Thank you for your time.
Kat : :shock:

I’ve read your explanation, it was certainly very interesting though I am not clear on the sentences as follows.

1)let’s start studying as to begin to learn.

2) let’s begin to study as to start learning.

Well, what I understan from sentence 1 , is that “we have been taking a couse but we ourselves have not studied yet (I mean, the homework).”
However, in sentence 2, the way, I understand it, is that we have not necessarily been taking any course, but that we are planning on doing.
My point is,
Is there any difference between the sentences above as far as meaning is concerned? if so, what is it?

Thank you very much.

Dear Upright,

Many thanks for your question. Could you please tell us where you found the two sentences you are refering to? They seem somewhat clumsy. Why not simply say ‘let’s start our course’? I mean, when you use ‘let us’ you are addressing a number of people who are very likely to know what you are refering to, that is, whether they should start a course or simply begin to learn something. What do you think?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A train yard[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Kat,

You might want to take a look at Alan’s latest article:[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Unpacking boxes[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten and Alan! Thank you very much!
But I don’t see the a new article in the “newsletters” It seems sadly.
What are your thoughts?
Kat :cry:


You’ll find it in the articles begin/start.


Hi Alan! Thank you! But I told about the new article in the newsletter!
Kat :cry:

Hi Kat,

You can read the current newsletter here:[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A girl cooking[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten! Thank you! I will read this artickle as soon as I have the opportunity( time)
Kat :lol: