Start vs. get started
Please tell me the difference between A and B.
A: how to get started.
B: how to start.
Posted 09 August 2002
Get can be used with a past participle. This structure often has a reflexive meaning, to talk about things that we do to ourselves, such as get dressed, and get washed. Get started would be included in this group.
Get + the past participle is somewhat informal but is used frequently in conversation. It would also be possible to say, more in written documents and in more formal speech, (except in fixed expressions), "I need to dress," "They're going to marry in July," and "You need to wash." In this way, how to get started would be less formal and much more conversational than how to start.
Aside from the formal/informal distinction, there is a slightly different meaning between start and get started. Start would indicate the beginning of an action that will continue, such as start walking, start paying attention, or start writing your exam. In contrast, get started refers only to the action of beginning an activity. You could continue walking, paying attention, or writing your exam, for example, but the expression get started would refer to just the action of beginning the activity.