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i know "d'abord" means "first" as in "firstly" and "tout d'abord" means "first of all."   i also know "aborder" can mean "to approach" and to "begin something".  

1) from looking at the dictionary, it appears that u don't just use it to say "i'm going to start cleaning now."  there seems to b the connotation that u're beginning something difficult.  there's even the example of "aborder une probleme."    

2) i like the usage that u're starting a new phase, a new chapter, a new career or biz.  

3) i see it used when u reach the shore.  i would use "gagner" but i will add "aborder"

4) these seem to b important if they are regularly used as i would think: 

des d'abord - from the beginning

toi d'abord - u first

aux abords de - in the vicinity of, on the outskirts of 

de prime abord or au premier abord - at first glance 

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1) yes. But it's not the first word used to this meaning. It's not used for a physical action. it's not wrong but it's not used. "commencer" is more used : "commencer à nettoyer". 

it's used for concept,  "aborder un problème", "aborder le sujet", "aborder la question". It doesn't depend on difficulty.

2) ?

3) gagner le rivage = i am on the sea and i go to the shore.

aborder le rivage = i am just at the beginning of the shore. I can put a foot on the beach.

4)

des d'abord  => wrong. Just "d'abord"

toi d'abord - u first => ok - often used

aux abords de - in the vicinity of, on the outskirts of => ok. used "aux abords de l'école, il y a des arbres"

de prime abord or au premier abord - at first glance => ok. used. "de prime abord" : formal. "au premier abord" : less formal.

i found this sentence in the dictionary: 

"je quittais une partie de moi-même, comme si j'abordais une vie nouvelle"

so i'm thinking when u begin a new career, job, phase in ur life, maybe u use "aborder."  i also know "entamer."  

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