For example,in this sentence:

Begun in 1078, the Tower of London was built in London’s southeast corner by William the Conqueror.

Why does that sentence use begun not began?

closed as off-topic by Kris, RyeɃreḁd, Mari-Lou A, anongoodnurse, Ronan May 19 '14 at 11:20

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  • Began is a finite verb, the past tense of begin. Begun is not a finite verb; it is a past participle acting as an adjective, and so it has no subject; it modifies the Tower of London. – tchrist May 19 '14 at 4:54
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    Suggested migration to English Language Learners – Kris May 19 '14 at 5:27

You can consider “begun in 1078” as an abbreviated form of the relative clause “which was begun”.

The issue really is the transitive verb “begin” versus the intransitive verb “begin”.


(Which was) begun in 1078

Here, begin is a transitive verb. Someone began the Tower of London. In fact, William the conqueror did. It was begun by him.


(Which) began in 1078

This would mean that the Tower of London just popped up out of nowhere by itself, which is impossible.

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    Yes, William began the tower then, and the tower was begun then. – Drew May 19 '14 at 1:47

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