The structure "Verb (conjunctive base) + HAJIMERU (始める)" is used to express the beginning of an action. It can be translated as "to begin to do something" or "to start doing something."

Mou tabehajimete mo ii desu ka.
Can I already begin to eat?

Literally: if I start to eat now, is it okay?

HAJIMERU (始める) is an Ichidan verb. It conjugates like any other verb of its category.

Plain formPolite form
食べ始める 食べ始めます
食べ始めない 食べ始めません
食べ始めた 食べ始めました
食べ始めなかった 食べ始めませんでした

An example with the past tense:

Kare wa hanashihajimemashita.
He started talking.

Another example with the use of the form "-te iru," the plain form:

Nedan ga agarihajimete iru.
The prices are beginning to rise.

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