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  1. dodonaomik's Avatar
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    #1

    Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    1 She began to understand what he said.
    2 She started to understand what he said.

    I guess 1 is used more frequently than 2?


    Thank you!

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    In general, they mean the same thing. You can use either.

  3. Soup's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    In general, they mean the same thing. You can use either.
    From Garbl's Editorial Style Manual: B
    Begin and start have subtle differences in meaning. Usually preferred, begin means merely a setting into motion of some action, process or course: They planned to begin holding retreats in January. She began her evaluation. Start is more precise. Use it to write about physical movement or leaving a point of departure: They started a journey. The boulder started a landslide. Also use start when writing about making a machine work or making something begin to exist: He started the car. She started her own beadwork business. Avoid using the stilted, formal commence to mean the same thing as begin.
    From BEYOND WORDS - LANGUAGE NOOK - Begin, commence, start
    Begin, commence, start
    Begin is the more general term; commence is more formal; and start usually applies to physical motion.

    • Until I can start my car, I cannot begin to finish my chores.
    • The meeting will begin at 8:30 exactly.
    • The ceremony will commence promptly at 11 a.m.
    • My course in Canadian history begins (or starts) on Tuesday, May 15.
    • Some people say the world began with a big bang.
    • Do not begin writing until the bell rings.
    • Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!


    The content of the Linguistic Section has been taken from the Translation Bureauís linguistic tools. Visit the Bureau's Web site (translationbureau.gc.ca) to discover new linguistic tips monthly.
    See also

    Content Frame
    Begin & Start - Printable Teacher Handout - UsingEnglish.com
    What's the difference between begin and start? - Blurtit


  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    Yes. I interpreted the question as the difference between "began to" and "started to". There's probably a subtle difference there as well, though I can't think of one at the moment.

  5. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Yes. I interpreted the question as the difference between "began to" and "started to". There's probably a subtle difference there as well, though I can't think of one at the moment.
    The same difference in tone and emphasis applies as in the examples offered by Soup.

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    #6

    Re: Can you tell the unthinkable difference about the 2 sentences?

    Quote Originally Posted by dodonaomik View Post

    1. She began to understand what he said.
    2. She started to understand what he said.
    For me, #2 has a sense of a more "active" beginning to understanding. This may relate to the associations of the word "start":

    a) starting a car
    b) starting a race
    c) starting = making a sudden movement

    Cf. Soup's extract:

    and start usually applies to physical motion.
    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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