Began vs Begun: Grammar Guide

When to Use Began or Begun: A Comprehensive Grammar Guide for Everyone

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Derek Cupp

By Derek Cupp

I’m here to clear up a common grammar hang-up: when to use “began” or “begun”. These two words can be pretty tricky, but don’t worry – I’ve got the scoop!

“Began” and “begun” both come from the verb ‘to begin’. But they’re used in different grammatical contexts. It’s essential that you know which one fits your sentence correctly.

Let me guide you through this labyrinth of language rules. Stick with me, and you’ll never mix up “began” and “begun” again!

Understanding the Basics: Began vs Begun

We’ve all been there. You’re typing away, and suddenly you hit a snag. Is it ‘began’ or ‘begun’? It’s not uncommon to fumble over these two words – they’re pretty similar after all. But here’s the deal, understanding their appropriate usage isn’t as tricky as it seems.

Let’s start with ‘Began’. This word is the simple past tense form of the verb “begin”. It implies that an action was started but has already ended in the past. For instance, “I began my diet last week.” Here, I’m indicating that at some point in time (last week), I initiated my diet.

On the flip side we have ‘Begun’. Now this one’s a little trickier since it’s used in perfect tenses. That means you’ll see it crop up with auxiliary verbs like “has”, “have”, and “had”. So if you say, “The movie has begun.” You’re referring to an action that started in the recent past and could still be happening now.

Here are some examples to help illustrate:



I began reading a new book yesterday


The meeting has just begun

It can be easy to mix them up because both words come from “begin”. Just remember – if your sentence needs an auxiliary verb like ‘has’, ‘have’, or ‘had’, then ‘begun’ is your go-to! If not, stick with ‘began’.

Believe me when I say this: knowing when to use began vs begun can make your writing clearer and more accurate. And hey – don’t stress too much about getting it right every single time. Even us grammar gurus mess up occasionally! Practice makes perfect – so keep writing, keep learning and most importantly – keep beginning!

Application of ‘Began’ and ‘Begun’ in Sentences

Let’s dive right into how to use ‘began’ and ‘begun’ correctly. Both these words are different forms of the verb “begin”. The main difference lies in their usage. “Began” is the simple past tense form, while “begun” is used as a past participle.

You’d typically use “began” when you’re talking about something that started but is no longer happening. For instance, consider this sentence: “I began writing my blog post yesterday, but I didn’t finish it.” It implies an action that got started in the past yet didn’t complete.

Now let’s focus on “begun”. This word is invariably accompanied by a helping verb like “has”, “have”, or “had”. So, if you’ve already commenced something and it’s still ongoing or its effects persist, then you’d go for “begun”. A perfect example would be: “I have begun working on a new project.” This signals an action that was initiated and remains unfinished.

To make things clearer, let’s lay these examples out:




I began reading the book last night

Begun (with helping verb)

She has begun learning Spanish

Remember to always follow up “begun” with its faithful companion – one of those helping verbs we talked about earlier. And keep in mind that “began” thrives solo!

In terms of pronunciation, there’s little room for error since both words sound quite distinctive. Just remember: ‘gan’ sounds like ‘can’, whereas ‘gun’ resembles ‘fun’.

Finally, don’t fret if it feels confusing initially – mastering these nuances takes practice! As you become more familiar with their correct application in sentences, they’ll soon become second nature.

Conclusion: Summing Up When to Use Began or Begun

I’ve strived to unravel the mystery of when to use ‘began’ and ‘begun’. It’s not a simple case of choosing one over the other. Instead, it centers on understanding their grammatical roles in sentences.

‘Began’ is the simple past tense form of ‘begin’. You’ll use it when talking about an action that started and ended in the past. For example, “I began my workout at 7 am.”

On the other hand, ‘begun’ is the past participle form. It needs an auxiliary verb like ‘has’, ‘have’, or ‘had’ for it to make sense in a sentence. For instance, “She has begun her new project.”

No doubt you’re now more equipped than before with this knowledge. Consider this table for further clarity:


Correct Word

When referring to a completed action in the past


When using with an auxiliary verb (has/have/had)


Let’s also revisit some key points:

  • Remember that ‘began’ stands alone.

  • Keep in mind that ‘begun’ never goes out without its buddies – auxiliary verbs.

In essence, accuracy in language isn’t just about sounding intelligent—it’s about effective communication. Understanding how words like began and begun function can help ensure your message comes across as intended every time you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

So there we have it! I hope this guide has helped clear up any confusion surrounding these two tricky words. As always, practice makes perfect so don’t shy away from using them in your daily conversations and writing endeavors!

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