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Back to the Start: How Native English Speakers Talk About Starting Things

They say the secret to getting ahead is getting started, but how will people know you’re getting ahead if you don’t tell them what you’re starting? 

Native English speakers use a lot of nuanced and elaborate expressions and idioms to talk about beginnings.

For example, right now, we’re on the precipice of autumn. The winds are changing! It’s the start of a new school year, and many of us are coming back to the office after vacation.

We want to make sure you’re off to a good start, so here’s everything you need to know about going back to the start. 

→ Find the full list of suggested phrases at the end of this article so that you can take your English-to-go! 

Using symbols associated with beginnings

We often use elaborate and symbolic language to describe the start of something. It’s both popular and profound to evoke the image of “dawn,” or the time when daylight breaks each morning. 

  • It’s the dawn of a new recruitment cycle. 
  • With these new hires, we’re at the dawn of an exciting era in our company’s growth. 

Another popular-and-profound metaphor for new beginnings relates to “seeds.” 

  • With the seeds we’re planting now, there’s no doubt we’ll be successful next month! 
  • We’re planting the seeds for our company to grow threefold in the next tax year. 

Here’s the key: not every new beginning is “worthy” of this kind of poetic language. For instance, if you’re talking about starting your car. 

Yes, technically, you could say something like, “it’s the dawn of a new road trip.” But, just because you could doesn’t mean you should! Save it for significant starts, such as the commencement ceremony for a New Hire Orientation. 

Using different phrases depending on what kind of “start” you’re talking about

English speakers also specify based on whether we’re talking about initiating or returning to something. 

When we initiate something, we can say we’re starting [it] up. This is actually where we get the term “start-up” from! Here are a few other fun ways to talk about fresh starts

  • If we’re starting something up, we’re also kicking it off
  • We probably want it to get off to a good start.
  • (And we definitely don’t want to soil our clean slate!)
  • So, we’ve got to hit the ground running.
  • Then, we can break new ground (be groundbreaking) and blaze new trails (be trailblazing). 

When we’re returning to something, we can say we’re coming back [to it]. This is a popular way to describe the process of starting over

  • If we’re going back to the beginning, we’re also taking things back to the start
  • That means we’re also going back to square one
  • And, usually, in that case, we’re also getting back to the drawing board.
  • This is so we can figure out a new strategy for hopping back in the saddle

There are many other ways to describe a new beginning in English. In this article, we’ve explored some of the more poetic and practical ones. But, ultimately, everyone’s voice is unique! 

It’s always going to be about your personal linguistic preferences! If none of these seem like phrases you’d say, you don’t have to say them just to sound like a native. There are plenty of other options out there! 

Want to expand your capacity to talk about starting things in English in your own voice

→ work with us! Book a free call!


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5 Symbols for Beginnings, Take Your English To Go

5 Symbols for Beginnings

Before Starting Something

  1. on the precipice of…
  2. at the dawn of…
  3. planting the seeds of…

Returning to or Restarting Something

  1. getting back to the drawing board…
  2. going back to square one…




8 Phrases for Initiating, Take Your English To Go

8 Phrases for Initiating

From more poetic to less poetic

  1. a clean slate / a blank page
  2. blazing new trails / trailblazing
  3. breaking new ground / groundbreaking
  4. to hit / hitting the ground running
  5. to kick [things] off / kicking off
  6. [off to] a fresh start
  7. [off to] a good start
  8. starting [something] up



7 Phrases for Restarts/Returns, Take Your English To Go

7 Phrases for Restarts/Returns

From more poetic to less poetic

  1. getting / going / taking it back to the drawing board
  2. getting / going / taking it back to square one
  3. coming back [to it]
  4. taking it back to where we started
  5. going back to the beginning
  6. getting back to the start
  7. starting over

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