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Began vs Begun (When to Use, Grammar, Examples of Each)

Is it began or begun? Do you get confused using different forms of tense and feel challenged to use them in the correct grammatical context?  Don’t worry! You are among many who are challenged in the same way. 

English is a complicated language. There are some verbs that can be easily conjugated with suffixes like -ed for the past tense. Adding “will” before regular verbs forms their future tense. However, there are some irregular verbs that are conjugated in different manners. One such example is that of the verb “begin.”

Meaning of Began and Begun

Began and Begun, are both different tense forms of the same verb “begin”. It means to do the first part of an action or to go into the first part of a process. Different forms of “begin” include began, begun, and beginning.

Begin (past tense of “began”) /biˈɡin/start; perform or undergo the first part of (an action or activity).
Begun (verb) (past participle of “began”)start; perform or undergo the first part of (an action or activity).
Began vs. begun
Began vs. begun

Began vs. Begun

Let’s understand the differences between these verbs through a better understanding of when to use them for correct grammar and through some examples.  

When to use “Began”

To convey the simple past tense for the verb “begin,” you can use began. Instead of adding -ed, the word gets transformed to began

For example, you can NOT say, “I beginned my task early this morning.” Instead, you would say, “I began my task early this morning.”

Began: Sentence Examples

  • Example 1: Heavy rain began falling in the middle of the night and continued till today afternoon. 
  • Example 2: The movie began before I could reach the theatre on time.
  • Example 3: I began this course 3 months back and I am so happy with my choice. 
  • Example 4: Thankfully, the medicine began to work very quickly to help decrease the pain
  • Example 5: The breakfast buffet began at 8 am. We reached late as we overslept.
  • Example 6: I began to understand the importance of little moments in life when I repeatedly got to observe small acts of kindness.

When to use “Begun”

The past participle form of the verb “begin” is begun. As it is a past participle, begun requires the help of auxiliary verbs to form a sentence that is grammatically correct. They are also known as helping verbs.

For example, you can NOT say, “She begun to perform her duties diligently.” Instead, you would say, “She has begun to perform her duties diligently.”

Auxiliary verbs for begun are has, had, and will have.

Begun: Sentence Examples

  • Example 1: The dinner had already begun when we reached the restaurant.
  • Example 2: The process has already begun. You need to withdraw your application if you want to stop the process. 
  • Example 3: My father always encourages me by saying, “Well begun is half done!” 
  • Example 4: I have begun a new book and make it a point to read for at least 20 minutes daily.
  • Example 5: My mom gave me a stern look and asked, “Have you begun your assignment yet?”
  • Example 6: I feel, the show will have begun by the time we cross this traffic and reach the theatre.
  • Example 7: Winter had begun to do its work – heavy snows and chilly nights.

Now you know “begin” is an irregular verb. began and begun are just other tense forms of this verb. They mean the same.

Began is used as the past tense, while begun is used as the past participle tense form of “begin.”

And begun is always accompanied by an auxiliary verb in a sentence. 

You can explore other irregular verbs with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.


Is it “had begun” or “had began?”

Technically, both are correct given the context of the sentence. For example, “The race had begun.” And “the race had began.” Both are correct and are used in different tenses.

Is it “has begun” or “has began?”

Similar to “had began” or “had begun,” both are correct given the context of the sentence and tense the sentence is referring to.


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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