Los comienzos, algunas veces llenos de ilusión, y otras veces llenos de dificultades. Hoy te enseñamos palabras que tienen que ver con este campo léxico.

The summer is nearly over and we are about to start a new academic year. This is a time of good intentions when we take up new hobbies and embark on exciting projects – maybe to learn a new language! And in this month’s Spread the Word we’re going to be looking at the lexical area of starting, of beginning, of getting things underway!

Language is full of references to specific kinds of starts and beginnings: we have dawns – not only of days: we can talk about the dawn of civilization, of history, of a new era, or even of time itself.  And there is the birth of a child but did you know that we can also refer to the birth of a nation, of a political movement or of democracy? It’s clearly a word that adds gravitas to creation.

There are formal inaugurations of events like conferences and exhibitions and ceremonial openings for prestigious affairs: from the opening of parliament to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games and the opening night of the latest Broadway show. And while we launch ships and rockets, shuttles and satellites, we can also launch products, book, campaigns and political parties.

A word that denotes a less positive beginning is onset as it tends to be used in collocations such as the onset of winter or the onset of illness/symptoms etc. Onset is not to be confused with outset, which is also a synonym of the general meaning of beginning and most commonly used in the prepositional phrase at/from the outset.

At the beginning of this post you may have noticed a couple of pertinent phrasal verbs, and we’re now going to look at a few more. For example, to set about doing something means to start doing something with vigour and determination, while to set off or out is to begin a journey. To get down to something is to begin to do or give serious attention to, common in the phrase let’s get down to business! Finally, to kick off is a phrasal verb that comes from football and can be used in any context: what time does the party kick off?  The noun kick-off is also common and can mean the start of a football match or the beginning of other events and activities.

Finally, here are some everyday expressions that talk about things beginning. For example, if two people get off on the wrong foot it means their relationship starts badly. More positive is when a business, a plan or a project gets off to a flying start as this points to a successful beginning. To get the ball rolling means to start an activity in order to encourage others to do the same: for example, in a meeting the chair can ask who’d like to get the ball rolling? in order to invite opinions.  If you start from scratch it means you start with nothing, and if you want to start or re-start something with a short, sharp effort, we can use kick-start, a verb the press use sometimes in sentences  such as the government plan to kick-start the economy by dropping interest rates.

With best wishes for the 2017/2018 academic year!