I have a question about the usage of the verb "open" in this book:

The day opened with a blistering artillery bombardment similar to that which had occurred against the 83rd and 80th Brigades.

Would replacing "open" with "begin" be more standard English? If "open" as used in the example is correct, then how are "the day opened..." and "the day began ... " different?

  • 1
    Yes. The original corresponds to “The day started with...” In my opinion, there's no discernible difference between the two.
    – user3395
    May 18, 2016 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


I think the day began and the day opened are very similar in meaning. I don't think open is any more standard than begin here. With the day opened, there might be some slight connotation that we are referring to a certain time of day when these sorts of actions usually occur, e.g., shelling at dawn. Opened seems to imply a formality which began does not. For this reason, in my opinion, opened works a little better than began in the quote above; I believe there probably is a little ceremoniousness to artillery usage in old wars.

  • 1
    Also, "to open fire" is often used when someone begins to shoot a weapon. Whether the author was referring to that usage is unknown.
    – mkennedy
    May 18, 2016 at 21:21

If you look at this NGram, you might think that usage of "the day began" is quite common. If you look at individual usages, though, the story is quite different: most do not have the meaning that you are looking for. Here are some examples:

There is no question that in the calendar used in the Pentateuch the day began with the sunrise.

the great battle of the day began about noon

when the day began to wear away...

Looking at actual usages of the day opened, a much greater proportion relate to the start of the day (dawn) or to the start of activities on that day. They usually concern either the weather or military matters, or in this case both:

The day opened out with a very hot sun, and no firing was heard on the lines, nor shells from the mortars

Based on this, I think that the day opened is the more appropriate usage for a description of military activities.

You must log in to answer this question.

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