begin, commence, start
Begin is the more general term:
- Until I can start my car, I cannot begin to finish my chores.
- The meeting will begin at 8:30 exactly.
- My course in Canadian history begins (or starts) on Tuesday, May 15.
- Some people say the world began with a big bang.
- Do not begin writing until the bell rings.
Commence is more formal than begin or start:
- The ceremony will commence promptly at 11 a.m.
Start usually applies to physical motion:
- Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
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