Both began and begun are different forms of the same verb, begin, which means “to start or proceed with something.” The word began is the simple past tense of begin while the begun is the past participle form. Since began and begun are irregular verbs, people often get confused about which to use when.
This article will explain the difference between these two and show how to use them in sentences. So let’s get started.
When to Use Began
As mentioned above, began is the simple past tense of begin. It doesn’t require any auxiliary or helping verbs such as have, shall, should, can, may, must, etc. along with. You can directly use it in a sentence. See the following examples.
- She began to spend the evening at home.
- I began this novel around five months ago.
- She began to write with confidence.
- I began to write a book at a very young age.
- He began to cry when he heard that his father had died.
- She was so happy that she began to dance.
- As we stepped out, it began to rain.
- She began to talk nonsense.
- He suddenly began to cry.
- Even after enforcing the lockdown, the epidemic began to spread rapidly.
- Having done my work, I began to play.
- When the clown came on stage, the audience began to laugh.
When to Use Begun
Begun is the past participle form of begin. It appears after a helping verb such as has/have/had in the past perfect tenses. Remember, the simple past refers to events that happened in the past, whereas the past participle describes something which occurred in the past in conjunction with other events. See the following examples.
- I have begun to take long walks every evening, after dinner.
- Has this flight begun boarding?
- By 1963, the picture had begun to change.
- The boys who worked in these chimneys had begun to agitate for better conditions.
- Emma had begun to eat the cake.
- The rain stopped as quickly as it had begun.
- The wound had begun to heal from within after a few days.
- Soon our soldiers’ guns had begun to reply.
- The fireworks had begun.
- As the sun shined, the snow had begun to melt.
- She must have picked up a cold – she has begun to sniff.
How to Remember the Difference Between Began and Begun
For a lot of people, it’s difficult to remember the difference between began and begun. If you’re one of them, don’t worry; here is a trick. You can remember that begun rhymes with one while begun needs a helping verb to go with it as it is a past participle.
In speaking, you can differentiate these verb forms with the sounds. Began is pronounced with a broad “e” sound (bɪˈɡæn), while begun is pronounced with a narrow “a” sound [ bɪˈɡʌn].