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https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7

Comenzar, Empezar, Iniciar--the difference?

Usagiboy7
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Hello,

I'm wondering what are the finer points of difference between these three Spanish words: Comenzar, Empezar, Iniciar.

Many thanks :)

3 years ago

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
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Thanks for the links! I found this comment particularly helpful. Amazingly enough, I found it challenging to understand for reasons other than that everything was in Spanish. It was the grammatical terminology. But, I was able to pick up that iniciar works for general time like "this morning", but for exact times it had to have a direct object, such as El partido se inicia a las 20:00

En cambio INICIAR es únicamente transitivo. Siempre necesita un objeto directo. Significa exactamente lo mismo que EMPEZAR y COMENZAR cuando actúan como transitivos, y puedes usarlo exactamente igual que ellos.

Asi pues, puedes decir perfectamente:

Inicié (o comenzé, o empecé) este libro esta mañana.

Pero NO puedes decir:

El partido inicia a las 20:00.

Porque INICIAR no es intransitivo. Para poder emplearlo en ese contexto tienes que introducir el objeto directo con "SE".

El partido se inicia a las 20:00.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

I'm from Argentina I really don't see the problem in "El partido inicia a las 20:00"... I'm not sure if in the rest of Hispanic countries is the same.

"Empezar" and "Comenzar" for me is the same... "Iniciar" is something more formal.

I'm not sure, but I would never use "inciar" in an imperative sentence.

!No inicies a molestar! This sounds quite bad / unnatural.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tammaiya
tammaiya
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That's really interesting! I can add from the perspective of having studied Japanese (where the distinction between transitive/intransitive verbs is inescapable), it comes down to whether or not there is a direct object. Some verbs can be either transitive or intransitive (the door opens, I open the door), whereas other verbs are either only transitive (MUST have a direct object - e.g. own - what do you own?) or only intransitive (CAN'T have a direct object - e.g. sneeze). Most verbs in English can be used as either transitive or intransitive without any change to the word itself, which is why it is such a foreign concept for native English speakers to grasp, but in Japanese, for example, there are often different but related verbs for transitive and intransitive. Not a conjugation, but a similar stem.

What the comment there is saying is that inciar can ONLY be used as a transitive, i.e., it MUST have a direct object, whereas empezar and comenzar can be used as either transitive or intransitive verbs. "El partido inicia a las 20:00" is therefore wrong, because there is only an indirect object ("at 20:00"). However, when used in a sentence with a direct object, inciar is interchangeable with empezar and comenzar. According to the comment quoted above, anyway - I would assume there is some kind of subtle nuance difference, even if they are the same grammatically.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
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Good question!

Hm, my gut understanding from growing up with Spanish (but not being fluent, so I could be horribly off) is that iniciar is a bit more like "initiate" and feels more, well, formal? It's not a word I'd use casually, like if I were about to play a game with friends and wanted to say something like, "Let's start!" I'd more likely use it in formal writing or when talking about formal things like legal matters.

Comenzar and empezar are pretty interchangeable though. Generally, I use comenzar more, which I believe is just because I speak Latin American Spanish. In Spain, I think empezar is more common in speech while comenzar is more common in literature, but I could be wrong. I definitely don't speak Spain Spanish. Comenzar is used in both speech and writing in Latin American Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/-Karvin-
-Karvin-
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Spanish is spoken in a lot of different countries in America and, because of its geographical extension, we certainly don't speak the same. Your rule for empezar and comenzar in Spain is the same in Argentina. I don't know in other countries (didn't know Spaniards used it that way). Also, iniciar is more formal and/or used in technical fields. Hope it helps :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
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Maybe I should specify Central American/Mexican/Southwestern USA Spanish then. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/-Karvin-
-Karvin-
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Hahaha for example, I live close to Chile but sometimes It's really hard to understand what they mean. Also, some academies here have courses of American English (instead of British), and then I think of all the different places in USA which one would be the reference? I guess Northeastern Coast, maybe. (And that's for one country, imagine 20 different hahaha). Anyway, keep it up, It's a beautiful language!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lingophilic

I believe they are used interchangeably for the most part, though empezar is more common than comenzar and comenzar is more common than iniciar.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joseph-20
joseph-20
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Yo soy hablante de español nativo y simpre decimos "el partido inicia a las 20:00" no decimos "el partido se inicia a las 20:00", no cabe duda de que a pesar de ser hablantes de nacimiento a veces cometemos muchos errores en nuestro propio idioma XD.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dragondegabi

Yo siempre he dicho '' el partido empieza a las 20:00'', pero si lo quieres decir de forma formal es como dices '' el se inicia a las 20:00''. Estoy de acuerdo con lo de los errores.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dragondegabi

Iniciar, comenzar and empezar mean the same thing. But iniciar is said differently.

Iniciar - Starting. Comenzar - Star. Empezar - Star.

Instead START is only transitive . You always need a direct object . It means exactly the same as START and START when acting as transitive , and you can use it exactly like them.

Thus , you can say perfectly :

I started (or I started , or started ) this book this morning.

But you can not say :

The party starts at 20:00.

Because START is not intransitive . To use it in this context you have to enter the direct object with "SE" .

The match starts at 20:00.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JordiAbadal
JordiAbadal
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Buenas tardes. Si necesitais algún tipo de ayuda, no dudeis en pedirla. Yo estudio Ingles y los nativos ingleses me ayudan mucho.

3 years ago