Comenzar in Spanish: Conjugations, Meanings & Uses


In this short guide, we will cover the following topics for ‘comenzar’ in Spanish:

  1. What does ‘Comenzar’ mean?
  2. Comenzar Conjugations
  3. How to Use ‘Comenzar’ in Spanish
  4. Expressions & Idioms with ‘Comenzar’
  5. Synonyms of ‘Comenzar’ in Spanish

What does ‘Comenzar’ mean?

Definition – ‘Comenzar’ means to begin, to start or to commence. As a result, we use this verb to talk about the beginning or start of something. Comenzar is more commonly translated as ‘to start’, ‘to begin’.

‘Comenzar’ Conjugations 

As an irregular verb in Spanish, ‘comenzar’  has some changes in spelling when conjugating in certain tenses, moods and pronouns and moods. Some of the tenses where you can expect irregularities include:

  • Present indicative
  • Preterite
  • Subjunctive mood
  • Imperative

Below are some conjugation charts as well as some instructions that will help you understand how to conjugate comenzar in Spanish. 

Indicative

Present tense conjugation

In the present tense, ‘comenzar’ has some spelling changes. Notice that for ‘nosotros’ and ‘vosotros’ you’ll use the stem ‘comenz’ while for the rest of the pronouns, you’ll work with ‘comienz’. Despite these irregularities, you’ll use the proper endings for each subject.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomienzoI start
comienzasYou start
Él / Ella / UstedcomienzaHe/She starts
NosotroscomenzamosWe start
VosotroscomenzáisYou start
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomienzanThey/You start

Preterite tense conjugation

In order to keep a consistent pronunciation yo will change the ‘z’ for a ‘c’. In other words, you’ll use the stem ‘comenc’ for this person and for the rest of the pronouns, you’ll use ‘comenz’. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomencéI started
comenzasteYou started
Él / Ella / UstedcomenzóHe/She started
NosotroscomenzamosWe started
VosotroscomenzasteisYou started
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomenzaronThey/You started

Imperfect tense conjugation

Notice that comenzar is regular in the imperfect tense. As a result, after removing the -AR ending, all the subjects will be conjugated by following the stem ‘comenz’ and adding their corresponding ending. 

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomenzabaI started
comenzabasYou started
Él / Ella / UstedcomenzabaHe/She started
NosotroscomenzábamosWe started
VosotroscomenzábaisYou started
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomenzabanThey/You started

Future tense conjugation

Both the Spanish future and conditional tenses are conjugated by using comenzar in its infinitive form. In the conjugation charts below, you’ll find the proper endings for each tense.  

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomenzaréI will start
comenzarásYou will start
Él / Ella / UstedcomenzaráHe/She will start
NosotroscomenzaremosWe will start
VosotroscomenzaréisYou will start
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomenzaránThey/You will start

Conditional tense conjugation

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomenzaríaI would start
comenzaríasYou would start
Él / Ella / UstedcomenzaríaHe/She would start
NosotroscomenzaríamosWe would start
VosotroscomenzaríaisYou would start
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomenzaríanThey/You would start

Progressive Tenses

¡Apúrate! La película ya está comenzando.
Hurry, the movie is already starting.

Apenas estaba comenzando a cocinar, cuando se llegó mi hermano.
I was just starting to cook, when my brother arrived.

Perfect Tenses

Zulema no ha comenzado a preparar su maleta
Zulema hasn’t started to prepare her luggage 

¡Ándale! La película ya ha comenzado
Hurry! The movie has already started

Comenzar Subjunctive Conjugations

Present subjunctive conjugation

Notice that the present subjunctive changes the z for a c. In other words, to conjugate this verb to the present subjunctive, you’ll use the stem ‘comenc’ for vosotros and nosotros, while the rest of the subjects work with ‘comienc’.

PersonConjugationTranslation
YocomienceTo start
comiencesTo start
Él / Ella / UstedcomienceTo start
NosotroscomencemosTo start
VosotroscomencéisTo start
Ustedes / Ellos / EllascomiencenTo start

Imperfect subjunctive conjugations

PersonConjugationTranslation
YoComenzara / comenzaseI started
Comenzaras / comenzasesYou started
Él / Ella / UstedComenzara / comenzaseHe/She started
NosotrosComenzáramos / comenzásemosWe started
VosotrosComenzarais / comenzaseisYou started
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasComenzaran / comenzaseisThey/You started

Perfect subjunctive

Ojalá hubiéramos comenzado antes.
I wish we had started earlier.

Si no haya comenzado a cocinar temprano, no habría terminado.
I if hadn’t started cooking early, I wouldn’t have finished.

Imperative

Imperative conjugation

In the imperative conjugation, there are three stems that you’ll use to conjugate ‘comenzar’. One follows the present subjunctive conjugation and it is only applied to vosotros and nosotros. Ustedes and usted uses comienc and works with comienz. Notice that this is done for pronunciation purposes. 

PersonCojugationTranslation
comienzaYou start
NosotroscomencemosWe start
VosotroscomencéisYou start
UstedescomiencenThey/You start

As for the negative imperative, make sure to follow the present subjunctive conjugation for all subjects. 

No comiences ahora, no tendrás tiempo de terminar.
Don’t start now, you won’t have time to finish.

How to Use ‘Comenzar’ in Spanish with Examples

The verb ‘comenzar’ in Spanish is used to talk about the beginning or start of something.

In the section below, we’ll give you examples and phrase structures so you learn how to use ‘comenzar’ in Spanish and what elements you need to apply this verb correctly. 

Describing the beginning or start of something

As the direct translation of ‘to start’, ‘to begin’ and ‘to commence’, in Spanish, comenzar is often used when talking about the origin or beginning of something. Notice that, depending on what you’re referring to, you’ll need to use slightly different phrase structures.  

We use the verb ‘comenzar’ with the preposition ‘a’ and another verb in infinitive form to express the beginning or start of an action. 

[‘Comenzar’ conjugated] + [preposition ‘a’] + [infinitive verb]

Comencemos a trabajar desde temprano.
Let’s start working early.

Comenzó a llover y ya no pudimos salir.
It started to rain and we could not go out anymore.

¿Cuándo comenzarás a pintar la casa?
When will you start painting the house?

Todavía no he comenzado a estudiar.
I haven’t started studying yet.

If instead, you want to refer to the beginning or start of an action or event, you’ll use the following phrase structure.  

[‘Comenzar’ conjugated] + [noun] + [complement]

Comenzamos bien la semana.
We had a good start this week.

Comiencen las actividades, yo llegaré media hora tarde.
Start the activities, I will be half an hour late.

As you may imagine, you can also use this verb to express when an event is going to take place. In this case, you can follow this formula:

[Activity/Thing] + [‘comenzar’ conjugated] + [preposition] + [period of time]

Las clases de español comienzan a las 3,
Spanish classes start at 3,

 El partido de fútbol comenzará en dos horas,
The soccer game will start in two hours.

Comenzar Expressions & Idioms

There are a few expressions in Spanish that use the ‘verb’ comenzar. Learning them can help you improve your conversations. 

Comenzar de cero / comenzar desde cero: Translated as ‘to start from scratch’, this expression is used when someone refers to starting from a point at which nothing has been done yet.

Comenzar de nuevo: This phrase is used in Spanish to describe that something will be done again. ‘Comenzar de nuevo’ means ‘to do again’, ‘start over’ or ‘to do over’

Synonyms of ‘Comenzar’ in Spanish

Empezar: when talking about the beginning of something or starting an activity, this verb is also translated as ‘to start’. As a result, it can replace comenzar in all contexts. 

Iniciar: in Spanish, we also use this verb when referring to starting something. It is translated as ‘to initiate’ or ‘to begin’.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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