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What's the difference between commence and begin? Example Sentence: The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which has been held since 1985, ________ officially on 5th January each year. Should I write commences or begins in the blank?

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There is almost no difference in meaning. Commence is a borrowing from French in the Middle English period, and is used for a more formal starting of something.

In most cases "begin" is the proper word to use, even in formal English, but in this case, describing the official and formal opening of a festival, "commence" would be very appropriate.

  • So do I need to use commence here? – J Muzhen Aug 16 at 11:17
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    In this case, describing the official and formal opening of a festival, "commence" would be very appropriate. – James K Aug 16 at 11:41

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