“Beginning” or “Begining”-Correct Usage

Have you ever found yourself pausing as you type out the word “beginning,” wondering if maybe it’s spelled “begining”? You’re not alone! As a native English speaker in the U.S., the spelling between “beginning” and “begining” can be confusing.

But don’t worry, this article will clear things up. We’ll take a fun little journey through the history of “beginning” to see where it came from, when to use it vs. “begining,” and why “beginning” ultimately got stamped as the official spelling in American English dictionaries.

So whether you’re a writer, language nerd, or just lookin’ to settle that niggling uncertainty once and for all, stick with me and we’ll figure this whole “beginning” vs “begining” thing out together!

Tracing the Origins of “Beginning” and “Begining”

Like many words in English, “beginning” has origins in older languages. The earliest root is the Old English “beginnan,” meaning to start or undertake something. This evolved into “biginnan,” and eventually “beginnen” by the year 1000 AD. The word was often written as “beginnynge” in Middle English between the 12th and 15th centuries before transitioning to “beginning” in modern English. Throughout this evolution, the noun form ending in “-ing” emerged, used to denote the action of starting something.

This differs from the verb “begin,” hence why the spelling changed. So in summary, the prototype for our modern “beginning” has existed in some form for over a thousand years!

“Begining,” on the other hand, seems to be a much more recent variant that first popped up in the early 1800s, mostly in American English texts. Linguists aren’t entirely sure how it originated, but it may have been an accidental misspelling that took on a life of its own. Or possibly an intentional play on spelling by some innovator trying to reflect the pronunciation.

When to Use “Beginning” in American English ?

In contemporary American English, “beginning” is considered the standard, accepted spelling. All major dictionaries like Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, and Cambridge endorse “beginning” as the proper spelling and “begining” as incorrect.

For example:

“At the beginning of the movie, a spaceship appeared.” “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” These reputable dictionaries and style guides confirm “beginning” as the only spelling for formal writing

  • The Associated Press Stylebook
  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • American Psychological Association (APA Style)

So if you are writing for school, work, or publishing, you should always go with “beginning” over “begining” to uphold conventions. Informal mediums like social media give you more leeway with creative spelling, but keep in mind that “begining” may confuse your readers and could be seen as incorrect by some. The safest bet is to just stick with the traditional “beginning” for clarity.

Why does “beginning” being the sole accepted variant?

Well, for one thing, English spelling doesn’t always align predictably with pronunciation. Just look at words like “half” or “queue” that we routinely fumble pronouncing based on their odd spellings. Since the language evolved with input from so many sources, like Germanic languages and French, matching letters to sounds isn’t a reliable formula.

Another issue is that the suffix “-ing” denotes this is a noun form with a distinct meaning from the verb “begin.” So altering it to “begining” fundamentally changes the word’s essence. This convention of converting verbs to nouns via “-ing” is deeply entrenched in English, so we can’t just swap willy-nilly between “beginning” and “begining.”

Exceptions for Using “Begining”

In poetry and lyrical writing, the non-standard variant “begining” may be used intentionally to fit a rhyme scheme or rhythm. The vocabulary in music and poetry tends to have more flexibility. Historically, English spelling wasn’t as set in stone. You’ll come across texts from centuries past taking liberties with all sorts of spellings.

So in older works, “begining” certainly appears, though it seems “beginning” was still the predominant choice. Some innovative writers play with creating their own spelling systems. So if you’re penning an avant-garde story and want to shake things up, try spelling it “begining” for effect. Just keep in mind that in standard 21st century English, “beginning” remains the accepted benchmark spelling for anything formal, from a work memo to a dissertation. Stick with the classic!

Some Example of Using “Begining” in Informal Way

“Omg, I can’t believe summer is at the begining again! So excited for beach trips!”

“Here’s to new beginings in 2023! What goals are u setting for yourself this year?”

“I finally left that job I hated. It feels so freeing to have a fresh begining!”

“My dearest James, Our love story is still at the begining. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.”

Some Example of Using “Beginning” in formal Way

At the beginning of the fiscal year, the company analyzes sales data and sets new targets.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, according to Genesis.

During the beginning phases of the project, we will focus on research and development.

The beginning chapters of the novel introduce the main characters and setting.

My beginning Spanish course covers basic vocabulary and grammar.


So in summary, while the spellings of “beginning” and “begining” may seem interchangeable at first glance, there’s a long tradition in American English of using “beginning” as the conventional spelling. All formal writing in the U.S. treats “beginning” as the only correct variant, while “begining” is dismissed as improper.

Knowing the origins and reasoning behind this distinction helps us master which to use and when. I hope this breakdown has eliminated any uncertainty between these two tricky spellings! You can now write with confidence, always starting at the “beginning.”

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