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At the start vs To start with

at the start—(also: at the beginning ) initially; at first:

  • At the start he was merely an incompetent abroad, but being a man of intelligence he adapted quickly.

to start with —(also: to begin with)

1. as a first consideration; most importantly:

  • Kurosawa’s tale wasn’t all that original to start with—it was lifted from Hammet’s Red Harvest.

2. = at the start:

  • To start with, she was both advising customers and working on the counter but she quickly progressed to concentrate on providing advice.