I heard my native teacher say, "I start work at 9". Checking the dictionary, I got:

Start: to begin doing or using something
    -start something

    -start to do something

    -start doing something

So, in the case of "I start work at 9", is "work" a correct noun?

And in the case of "I start to work at 9" and "I start working at 9", is "work" a correct verb?

And is there any difference among the 3 structures?


3 Answers 3


All the examples are correct as well as grammatical. 'Work' means 'to work', a verb and name of action, a noun.

'To start' is an action verb the effect of which is transmitted into action in 'work', its object and an uncountable noun used without an article.

Infinitives and gerunds are verb upstairs, noun downstairs, or, to speak in no ambiguous terms, function as nouns.

So, all these imperative sentences asks you to be up and doing.


Note the title of the question: "There is no difference among “start work”, “start working” & “start to work”, is there?", so here are some examples to explain the difference - I personally think that giving example sentences is very helpful to understand the proper use. So here we go:

I start work at 9am, but first thing in the morning I need to have a coffee, so I start working around 9:15. 9am is the time when I walk through the office door. 9:15am is the time when I start doing what I'm paid for.

"Work" is the whole time you are paid for in your job, while "working" is the time where you are actually doing something to deserve your pay. "Start to work" would have the exact same meaning as "start working". In "I start work", "work" isn't a verb, it is a noun. Also: My work leaves no time for hobbies. I love/hate work. He knows nothing but work.

Other examples of "work" as a noun indicating the place where you are occupied: I have a work phone and a private phone. I go to work. I start to work (meaning I start my journey to the workplace) and I am at work from nine to five.

Since P.E.Dant asked for an explanation about the relevance of coffee: The coffee is important because it gives a reason why "I start work" and "I start working" happen at different times, 15 minutes apart, and therefore leads to an understanding of the difference between both terms.

  • How does knowing what time you have your coffee advance the questioner's knowledge of English? "Start to work" could mean, by the way, depart on the journey to the site where work is performed, and therefore may not "have the exact same meaning" as start working. Aug 24, 2016 at 7:46

Generally, in collquial English there is no difference in these three statements. However, your phrase "I start to work at 9" sounds a little strange to me as a native speaker. This phrase would often be used the following way

  • I started to work at 9

The verb "start" would normally be in the past tense with this phrase.

  • 1
    The usage of the present tense in the OP's example has a specific meaning. Jun 23, 2016 at 18:28

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