Begin Began Begun

In my writing yesterday, I found myself stumped in a “which word is correct” dilemma. I was writing a sentence in which I needed to use the past tense of begin. Confidently I used Began, but the more I thought about it, my confidence dropped. I realized the verb begin actually has two forms of past tense, Began and Begun. So which was the correct word to use? I dove into my Style Book to get some clarity.


This is what I found:





Begin is the simple present verb.


He begins the show at 6:00 pm.


Began is the simple past form of begin.


He began the show at 6:00 pm.


Begun is the past participle of of begin.


(Wait! What is a participle? A participle is a verb that needs to take a helping verb to work. The helping verb is usually a form of “have.”)


The show will have begun before I arrived.

The show would had begun before I could gotten there.


This is one of those cases where the incorrect sounds correct when you read it aloud.


The show would have began before I arrived doesn’t really sound wrong. It may be a little off, but our ear can do a good job convincing us that began is correctly past tense of begin.


This is what my ear was telling me yesterday. How do you know which word is correct? Look for the helping verbs which make the tense a participle. Let the helping verb help you decide.


Begin

Began

Begun


He begins the show at 6:00 pm.

He began the show at 6:00 pm.

The show will have begun before I arrived.








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