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I read this sentence, and I'm curious if it has subtle difference in meaning.

I should get started on that sooner rather than that later.

Can I just say 'I should start that on that sooner rather than that later.'?

What is the difference of get started on and start?

  • Yes, you can do that in many contexts (if you delete the errant "that"). Not so much going the other way, as noted in the answer below. – Hot Licks Feb 3 '17 at 17:54
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In the given example, yes, you can replace get started on with start.

I should start that sooner rather than that later.

However, the two are not always interchangeable. Michael Owen Sartin wrote in a comment:

There is a slight difference between 'start' and 'start on.' One can start an engine, and the engine will be running. If one starts on an engine, the implication is that he is beginning a process such as painting or repairing the engine.

Regarding your sentence though, sooner rather than later is the usual expression, without the that in between.

Get started on (something) is an idiom. -- TFD

to begin doing something; to take the first steps to do something.
"When do we get started on this project?"
"I want to get started on this right away."

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    There is a slight difference between 'start' and 'start on.' One can start an engine, and the engine will be running. If one starts on an engine, the implication is that he is beginning a process such as painting or repairing the engine. – Michael Owen Sartin Feb 1 '17 at 3:22
  • @MichaelOwenSartin yes, I'm including your comment in my answer. 😊 – NVZ Feb 1 '17 at 6:12
  • @MichaelOwenSartin I quite agree, but I would also say that start on implies not only a process but also effort and commitment (usually concerted and/or extended effort and commitment) on the part of the speaker. Kicking off an automated process would not be 'getting started on' something unless it was part of a longer process involving human input. For example loading and starting an automatic washing machine would not be 'getting started on the washing' since the machine does most of the work, but it would be 'getting started on the laundry' if the washing also needed ironing. – BoldBen Feb 1 '17 at 7:55

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