Today’s Grammar Point: ~はじめる

はじめる is a transitive verb that means “to start/begin something” but it can be used after a verb stem to mean “to start to do ~.” It is similar to ~す but while ~す is used for a sudden start of an action (of somebody/something else) that doesn’t have much to do with the speaker’s intention, ~はじめる is used for a start of an ongoing or intentional action. はじめる’s intransitive counterpart, はじまる, does not have this usage (i.e. it cannot follow a verb stem).


  • [verb stem] + はじめる

Examples of ~はじめる:

I started to study French last year.

I started to write a novel.

If you use した in above examples instead of はじめた, it sounds like you have already quit studying French or writing a novel.

Aeroplanes have finally started to fly.

If you say ようやく飛行機ひこうきした, that sounds like you are anticipating flights will stop again soon.

I started to read this book this morning, and I have just finish reading it.

As you continued to read the book till the end, you cannot swap はじめた with した.

When I started to eat lunch, the phone rang.

When I started driving the car for the first time in a long time, I felt happy.

As “eating” and “driving” are planned action, not the result of a sudden urge, はじめる sounds more appropriate than す.

Please visit my JLPT N3 Grammar page for more JLPT N3 grammar item.

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