Between the two following sentences, what is the difference?

"I began to feel a lump in my stomach."


"I started to feel a lump in my stomach."

I found out that most likely begin means it already started while start means it will start in a future moment.

3 Answers 3


Is there any difference between those two sentences start/begin?

No, the sentences mean the same thing.


There's no difference in meaning, but there is a significant (though subtle) difference in usage and emerging trends. With verbs relating to actions, both to start to [act] and to begin to [act] have long been about equally common...

enter image description here

But for verbs concerned with internal mental states, desires, etc. we nearly always use began to...

enter image description here

If you check this NGram for began to / started to feel, you'll see that the latter version has at least started to gain some traction. But that doesn't invalidate the broad principle. Besides which, at least some of the instances contributing to that chart would be for literal / tactile feeling, not an emotional state.


The idea that "start means it will start in a future moment" is good, but since the word 'start' has an -ed ending in your example, that suggests that this future moment has already passed. In other words, the lump has already began to be felt by you. Thus, there is no difference.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .