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Past Tense of Begin

In its verb form, the English word “begin” refers to the action of starting something, or undertaking the first section or part of something. It is not to be confused with its noun form “beginning.”

The simple past tense form of begin is “began” and its past participle is “begun.” Besides its more formal and conventional meaning, “begin” can also be used in a more informal and abstract manner to indicate a low chance or probability of something happening.

What is the past tense of “begin”?

Begin (verb):

(1) To start; to carry out or undertake the first part of something

(2) (Informal) Indicating a low chance or probability of something happening

  • Infinitive                       to begin
  • Simple Past                began
  • Past Participle             begun

Conjugation Table of “begin”

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Ibeginbeganhave begunam beginning
You (sing.)beginbeganhave begunare beginning
He/She/Itbeginsbeganhas begunis beginning
Webeginbeganhave begunare beginning
You (pl.)beginbeganhave begunare beginning
Theybeginbeganhave begunare beginning

Example Sentences of “begin”

(1) To start; to carry out or undertake the first part of something

  • Today begins a new dawn!
  • When he began learning French, he found it incredibly difficult, but it’s better now
  • They were beginning to believe her words when they suddenly discovered new information

(2) (Informal) Indicating a low chance or probability of something happening

  • You couldn’t possibly begin to comprehend what I’m talking about
  • I won’t even begin to tell you what he said to that!
What is the Past Tense of begin

Focus: Past Tense of Begin

To help us better understand the full range of how to use “begin” in is past-tense forms, we have prepared example sentences below that show “begin” in all of the following forms:

  • Simple past
  • Present perfect
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect

Simple Past of “begin”

  • He began the exam confidently, but became more nervous as time went on
  • They began life as the children of a poor farmer, and later went on to become famous actresses and authors
  • I began my business back in 2002 and since then have grown it into a thriving company that employs 50 people

Present Perfect of “begin”

  • I have begun to learn Spanish already, but I feel it’s going to be a difficult task
  • If you haven’t completed a night shift yet, then you haven’t begun to understand what it means to work here
  • We have begun to see just how much work you do around here, and it is much appreciated!

Past Continuous of “begin”

  • We were just beginning to understand one another, but then we had another falling out
  • You were beginning to really show mastery of the art form…it’s such a shame that you decided to quit at this stage
  • He was beginning to realize that he would never be accepted as one of them

Past Perfect of “begin”

  • I had begun to see that bringing reform to a public school was much harder than I first thought, so it was from then that I decided not to bother
  • They had begun the journey with such enthusiasm, it’s still such a shock that they ended it so abruptly and so prematurely

Understanding the Verb “Begin”

“Begin” hails from the Old English “beginnan.” It signifies the onset of an action or state.

Phrasal Verbs with “Begin”

  1. Begin with: To start by mentioning or dealing with.
    • To solve this problem, let’s begin with the basics.
    • He began with an apology.
  2. Begin by: Used to introduce the first in a list of actions or steps.
    • Begin by gathering all the necessary materials.
    • She began by telling us about her early life.
  3. Begin on: To start on a particular date or day.
    • The school year begins on September 5th.
    • The conference begins on Monday.

Common Mistakes with “Begin”

  • Incorrect: She begun the project last week.
  • Correct: She began the project last week.
  • Incorrect: I has begun reading.
  • Correct: I have begun reading.

You can check other past tense words by clicking on the links in the table below.

We also have a full list of irregular verbs from A – Z on the site which you can access from the link here.

Table 2: Table of Links for irregular Past Tense Verbs

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We also have articles and worksheets which we will link examples of below, and if you need more you can try the search box.

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