16 December 2016



Start or begin the course?
The verbs “start” and “begin” have the same meaning. They mean “undertake” or “initiate.” What distinguishes the verbs start and begin is that the former can be used with a direct object and the latter can not.

The verb “start ” means “undertake the first phase of an action; set about doing something,” “be at the start of a development, a state” or “have its origins at a place, on a date; begin.”

This verb can be a direct transitive verb, an indirect transitive verb or an intransitive verb depending on the sentences in which it used.


• We will start renovation work next week.
In this sentence, the verb “start” is direct transitive because it includes a direct object: We will start “ what? ” the work.

• In the car, the children started to get impatient.
In this sentence, the verb “start” is indirect transitive because it includes an indirect object: The children started “ to what? ” get impatient.

• The boundary of my land starts here.

In this sentence, the verb “start” is intransitive because it does not allow a direct object or an indirect object : The boundary of my land starts “where?” here.

As for the verb “begin,” it can only be intransitive.

We can write:

• He begins his training.
In this sentence, “his training” is the direct object of the verb “begin.” The verb “begin” must therefore be replaced by a synonym that allows a direct object, such as “start.”

However, we can write:

• This course begins on Monday.
Here, “Monday” is the direct object in the sentence (or adverbial phrase of time for older folk like me) of the verb “begin,” the sentence is grammatically correct.

Reference: French Language Office, Larousse.

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