Are there some specific situations where one cannot replace the verb begin by commence? All English knowledge I have at the moment I’ve acquired on my own, and there are still a lot of questions to clarify.
Upon comparing some of the example sentences included in websters-dictionary-online.net definitions for begin and commence, I conclude that one usually can replace forms of the verb “to begin” by a comparable form of “to commence”, but in many cases would not do so. Both verbs can be used in spatial or evaluative as well as temporal senses, but I think a form of “to begin” is more likely to be used than a form of “to commence” when sense is spatial or evaluative. For example:
The number one begins the sequence.
A terrible murder begins the novel.
The convocation ceremony officially begins the semester.
?The number one commences the sequence.
The sequence commences with the number one.
*A terrible murder commences the novel.
The novel commences with a terrible murder.
The convocation ceremony officially commences the semester.