OALD gives an idiom:

Get started

meaning: to begin doing something.

example: It's almost ten o'clock. Let's get started.

In this example, can I say "let's start" instead?

Both can mean we start doing something.

But I guess "let's start" may mean "let's begin our journey" while "let's get started" does not have such an option.

Please help clarify this.

  • Asides from the fact that the former has five more letters and one more space, I perceive no difference between the two and can't think of any context in which one could not appropriately replace the other. At best, if being used to introduce something, the grammar would have to change a little, e.g. Let's get started on building this table. vs. Let's start building this table. (although re-reading that, I think that I would default to the latter, for the sole reason that it's a bit more straightforward of a sentence).
    – Pockets
    Jun 5, 2014 at 0:51
  • 1
    @SamuelLijin - There are some contexts where one couldn't replace the other. For example, "Let's start the engine and see if the car won't make that noise again." As for your two sentences, I agree that "Let's get started on building this table" sounds a bit awkward, but I might say "Let's get started on this table" just as easily as "Let's start building this table." More on that in my answer below.
    – J.R.
    Jun 5, 2014 at 8:49

4 Answers 4


By itself, you can say either one. I would say that "Let's get started" means "Let's get underway," whereas "Let's start" means "Let's begin." For many activities, those two phrasings are pretty much interchangeable, but not always.

When specifying what activity will be started, though, whichever option you choose might affect how the rest of the sentence is structured:

  • A prepositional phrase often follows "Let's get started...", whereas that's not necessarily the case for "Let's start..."
  • An -ing word can follow "Let's start...", whereas the sentence might sound better with that word omitted after "Let's get started..."
  • Words can sometimes be added to "Let's start..." but inserted between "Let's get started..."

For example:

  • Teacher, to students:

Let's start the test.
Let's get started on the test.
NOT: Let's get started the test.

  • Mechanic, to other mechanics in the shop:

Let's start working on the car.
Let's get started on the car.
Awkward, but not ungrammatical: Let's get started working on the car.

  • Race official, to runners:

Let's start this race!
Let's get this race started!
NOT: Let's get started this race!

  • Parent, to children:

Let's start reading before it gets too late.
Let's get started on the book before it gets too late.

Other times, though, the wording won't change!

  • Golfer, looking at the ominous clouds

Let's start before it rains.
Let's get started before it rains.

It's tricky; I can see how a non-native speaker might be unsure about this.

  • 2
    The car example is a very good one; it's also worth noting that Let's start working on the car. is largely unambiguous in its meaning, whereas Let's get started on the car. could refer to any verb, e.g. if you were loading multiple vehicles, exactly one of which was the car, you might say Let's get started on the car. The more appropriate "get" form of Let's start working on the car., then, instead of using "get started" would be Let's get to work on the car.
    – Pockets
    Jun 5, 2014 at 16:14
  • 2
    @SamuelLijin - I agree that "Let's get started on the car," requires context to ascertain precise meaning, but so does "Let's start working on the car," in a way. An auto detailer might start working on the car with a vacuum, a mechanic might start working on the car with a diagnostic test, an oil change business might start working on the car by draining the oil, a towing company might start working on the car by attaching a hook to the rear end, and a fireman might start working on a car by hosing it down (if the car is on fire).
    – J.R.
    Jun 5, 2014 at 23:49

Both are correct and, in my experience, interchangeable. "Let's start" is slightly more imperative.

  • "get started" confuses me a little a few days ago, too. Normally I would use the phrase "get doing something" to indicate "someone starts doing somethings. According to the rule, it should be "get starting". But in fact "get started" is correct. Fairly strange.
    – Searene
    Jun 5, 2014 at 2:35
  • @MarkZar No, "get starting" means "get into a state of continuously being IN THE PROCESS OF STARTING." see my previous question: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/9193/… Try to compare it with the examples of "falled leaves", "vanished smile", etc. They are all intransitive verbs.
    – Kinzle B
    Jun 5, 2014 at 14:32

I have thought many years of that question of two sentences even after Steve Job's presentation starting with 'Let's get started'.

The answer is quite sure with the example as; 1) I will start the car. 2) I will get my driver (to) start the car. As you see in these two 'get' is for using someone else rather than me. In this sense, 'let's start the car' is definitely useful when i am only the person in this situation and make a decision.

Your question will be answered assuming the additional atmosphere with the presentation material, when Steve Jobs provided the speech the other day in WWDC 2007. 1) Let's start. (Steve didn't used this expression) 2) Let's get started. (Steve used) In this situation, Steve didn't address the speech himself but he used his presentation material, the driver as in the previous example, and meant that i will get my material to start the show.

Therefore, you can say 'let start' your car yourself or you can say 'let's start' your speech yourself, but if it is with your driver, and with helpful presentation material, you better say 'let's get started' your car and 'let's get started' my presentation.

Hope this helps!


"Let's get started" is more conversational, while "let's start" would be more formal.

  • 1
    Could you expand this answer? Answers that explain why and how are most useful to the questioner as well as to future readers. Jun 4, 2014 at 20:57
  • 2
    Without any sort of justification, I can't agree with this at all. Perhaps, based on where you are, "let's get started" may be the more natural expression to default to, but it's certainly not less formal than the other. If you were talking about something like "let us begin", then this would be true.
    – Pockets
    Jun 5, 2014 at 0:45

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