Phrasal Verbs: BREAK

In my first article about how to learn phrasal verbs, I mentioned that you should group your phrasal verbs together with a common verb. Today’s common verb is ‘break‘.

I also mentioned that conjuring mental images and stories to help memorise each expression will help, so let’s take a look at a few phrasal verbs and think of some images to go with them.

Break away

Meaning: To separate one from another or group.

The cyclist broke away from the group and took the lead.
The boy tried to break away and run, but his mother kept hold of his arm tightly.


Break down

Meaning: 1. To stop functioning. 2. To lose control of your emotions.

“I’m sorry I’m late, my car broke down on the way to the office.”
“John broke down when he heard the terrible news.”

break down

‘Breakdown’ can also be used in a noun as a single word:

“When Steven turned 50, he suffered from a mental breakdown.”

Break into

Meaning: To enter by force. Basically it means ‘to break something‘ to get into the room.

“Burglars broke into my car last night and stole my wallet.”
“I forgot my keys so I had to climb the fire escape and break into my own house.”

Break-in‘ is the occurrence of this verb as a noun.

“There was a break-in at the school on the weekend.”

break in

Break in

Meaning: To use something new until it becomes comfortable.

Before you wear your high heel shoes to the party, you should wear them around the house to break them in.
The horse needed to be broken in before the little girl could ride it.



Break out

Meaning: To happen suddenly.

“A riot will surely break out on the streets when the election results are announced.”
“The ebola virus broke out again in 2016 and affected medical personnel in the US and UK.”
“Her husband hates movies where people suddenly break out into song and dance.”

Breakout can also be used as a noun in a single word to describe the event when something occurs suddenly or gains quick success and fame.

“Moulin Rouge was the biggest breakout movie of the year.”
“Titanic was arguably Leonardo Dicaprio’s breakout movie role that gained him critical acclaim in Hollywood.”
“Lisa had a pimple breakout on her face the day before her wedding.”


Break out of

Meaning: To escape by force. This is perhaps the opposite of ‘break in‘.

“Several prisoners broke out of jail.”
“He needs to break out of this vicious cycle if he is going to beat his addiction.”


Break up

Meaning 1: To end a romantic relationship. Think of ‘breaking hearts’.

“Charlie and Sam broke up last week.”

If a person ends the relationship, you must add the word ‘with‘.

“She broke up with him after five years.”

break up

Meaning 2: To divide and disperse pieces of a bigger whole.

“He broke up the company and sold off the pieces to the highest bidder.”
“I will break up the block of chocolate to put into the cake.”

Remember, learn these as completely new vocabulary from their singular words.

The Cookie Chef.


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