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I was wondering what the difference is between these pairs of examples:

  • Okay, so if we are going to work where do we begin?
  • Okay, so if we are going to work where do we start?

And

  • We are going to have a party tomorrow. We should start making preparations today.
  • We are going to have a party tomorrow. We should begin making preparations today.
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    There are certain contexts where one may sound more natural or idiomatic or formal than the other; however, in your examples here, they both pretty much mean the same thing and neither one sounds awkward.
    – J.R.
    Jun 16, 2017 at 9:31
  • With the work pair, begin makes where sound more metaphysical (references some kind of 'state') - e.g. begin by sorting the register; start makes where sound more literal (references a location) - e.g. start at the door.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 16, 2017 at 14:24

1 Answer 1

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No difference in these examples.

Start can be used with machines and engines to express the process of transitioning them from a non-running state to a running state. So you will hear start your engines but never begin your engines.

Start can also be phrasally used with up, out with, and also over but these don't work with begin (start over = begin again, start again works too).

Start and stop are often paired, and begin and end are often paired.

Other than that start and begin are interchangeable.

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