Yes, really. Obviously, "commenced" should be the very first translation. Same root, same sound, same meaning, no discernable difference. A head-scratcher, for sure.
My answer is based on English usage, so it the Italian is different, then I don't know the answer:
"Initiate" in English means to start at the beginning. When you initiate a project or significant phase of a project, you take the first steps needed to bring the process from not-doing to doing.
"To initiate" implies that nothing was happing before being initiated. Once the process gets going, "initiate" is no longer used, unless there's some 2nd significant stage (or more). "He initiated construction by filing all the necessary paperwork with the local government." "He initiated the actual physical construction by having the ground cleared." "He initiated the first phase of tenancy by completing the ground-floor retail space while construction on apartments above continued."
"Commenced" means simply to begin doing something without regard to whether it's been done before - Initiating is also commencing, but commencing is not usually initiating: "Actual construction was initiated when bulldozers commenced to clearing the ground. After that, work commenced every day at 6:00 am." It's not wrong to say, "work was initiated every morning at 6", but it's stylized and kind of weird.
"Painting of the apartments [a major step in construction] was initiated after all the walls was finished on an entire floor of apartments, but did not commence until the plaster was dry."
Thanks for the detailed comment. But after finishing this whole Italian tree, I think we all (me included) spend too much time on the subtleties of the English. Duo should accept any of commence, initiate, start, begin, etc. in these translations, since we can't know the nuances that Italian has amongst the various options. Not at this beginner stage of learning Italian.
I see the sometimes-rambling discussions as a two-edged sword, cutting into our time and cutting into our ignorance. I'd rather have the meanderings of thought rather than their absence. In this instance, more is better, IMO.
Many of the comments and questions are 1 to 3 years old, so I assume the answers have already been gotten by the poster. Additional comment may be worth the time, not to answer the inquirer directly, but to provide an answer for anyone new to the module - if the question is significant enough, because often I realize it's simply a matter of not having learned enough of the language. Most questions will answer themselves, given time. But then, having an answer now may smooth the learning process.
I don't want to waste people's time, but I thought there is a significant enough difference between "commence" and "initiate" which warranted elaboration. I saw that not so much as an answer to the question for your or my benefit, but to provide an answer for anyone coming upon your question perhaps for the first time in his or her life. It was a good question, so it needed a good answer. In my opinion.
More is better.
Also, some people new to language learning may have never experienced the fine discrimination between words which can arise from their different treatment by different languages - or their own language. Having the distinguishing characteristics accurately described can be an eye-opening and mind-expanding experience, even if it's not exactly material to any current topic. If it's relevant, I'm for it. I may not read a lot of it, but I'm still for it.
That's one of the reasons I enjoy the humorous comments so much - they're not just funny, they're expansive; they extend the meaning of words and phrases into previously unknown territory, with a laugh.
Very well said. I like the point about "fine discrimination" being a new thing to some people. Even in their own language. Avanti !
I'm sure I've seen cominciare conjugated with essere as well as avere. Or am I imagining things. Can essere be used (I've definitely seen ricominciare conjugated with essere).
There seems to be some inconsistency regarding the use of have/has in the translation e.g. Ha prodotto alcol = he produced alcohol was judged to be incorrect because I had missed out 'has'., but in this sentence there is no 'have or has'. and yet is obviously deemed to be correct. Is there a definitive answer to this.
Right, there's no ambiguity about this. The tense being used is the present perfect, or passato prossimo, which translates as "I have done", "He has worked", "You had been", etc. Saying "I did", "He cooked", are a different tense, . All of these tenses are conjugated by the present indicative of the auxilliary (avere or essere) + past participle (participio passato) of the intended verb. The choice over essere and avere is verb specific, but generally follows the rule that feelings, moods, and emotions, intransitive verbs use essere, while transitive verbs take avere. Also, when essere is used, there is also past participle agreement in gender and number of the subject. Unfortunately, there is no one simple past tense in Italian, as there is in English. The passato remoto and imperfetto are used to describe events that have been completed in the past (He ate...but is now finished.), or were on-going (He used to dance.), respectively.
That's right, so if we're translating these sentences to english we should really use the right tense, not just translate it literally. In this case it would have to be past simple; "we started at six", without the "have" part.. cause that sentence wouldn't be correct in english since the sentence clearly states the exact time when we started. In italian, german and french it is common to use present perfect as past simple.
I am confused about the use of essere and avere with cominciare.
I know that both can be used with cominciare in the perfect tense, but i thought it would be essere in this case. Is "alle sei" a direct object?!? The last sentence I had was "e cominciato tre settimana fa" ( I can't put an accent on the "e", sorry!)
You are correct, cominciare is one of the rare verbs that can be used intransitively (in which essere is used for compound tenses) and transitively (in which avere is used). In the example you give, "alle sei" is the direct object. The intransitive example, though a little ambiguous, does not need a direct object, and so uses essere instead of avere.
I would have described "alle sei" as an adverbial phrase, but perhaps my memory of high school grammar and diagramming is faulty. However, I wonder if the use of AVERE with "cominciato" here is because we have a personal subject, WE, that is performing the action of "starting, beginning" an event. In the previous example, "È cominciato tre settimana fa", the subject is an impersonal "IT", and the action of being started or begun was done by others, so ESSERE is the auxiliary verb. If this is not correct reasoning, then please let me know. Grazie!
1) Cominciare and iniziare are very similar. Just as in English we have start, begin, commence, initiate etc. We studied them in my regular class a while ago but my recollection is that it's very idiomatic which to use. It's a bit like English - a party might "start/inizia" at 7pm, but an exam might "commence/commincia" at 9am, a little more formal. There are many situations where either is ok.
2) I think alle sei can mean 6pm if it's clear from other context that you are talking about the evening. "Piero, dove inizia la tua festa domani?" "Alle sei." Obviously it's the evening. Otherwise you can say "Alle sei di sera". You can always add "di mattina, di pomeriggio, di sera, di notte" to clarify time things.
Hope that helps ! Ciao
"We started at six am" was rejected. I understand that Italy is on a 24 hour clock. A translation from Italian in North America would require clarification as to am or pm.
There's no need to invent context.
Between friends and in other informal situations, Italians may use the numbers from 1 to 12 to indicate time, and the context of the conversation will usually be sufficient. After all, La Scala doesn't have performances at eight in the morning!
Since my earlier post we have studied this verb in class. To "start" is either cominciare or iniziare, and you can mostly use either. Also a variant incominciare. To finish is just usually finire. (There are others .. terminare, concludere). The transaltion of cominciare to "start, begin, commence" is a matter of style and usage. A children's party might "start" at 6 but a board meeting might "commence", ie. a bit more weighty. Anyway the overlap is 99% and DL should accept either. Hope that's interesting! Ciao. 13nov15