Phrasal Verb BREAK (Intermediate)

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PHRASAL VERB BREAK

Study phrasal verb BREAK:

Break Meaning + Use Examples

break down (figures)

take a total and sub-divide it under various headings so as to give additional information

There are well more than 12.5 million people now unemployed in the United States. I'll show you how they break down state by state. (show how many unemployed people there are in each state.)

The poll did not break down results by age or gender.

break down (a door, etc.)

cause to collapse by using force

The police came, broke down my door and had me leave the building.

When you had four men with handguns break down the door, why did you decide to fight them?

break down

(a) when used of people, it normally implies a temporary emotional collapse

Though he tried hard not to, he broke down and sobbed on his father's shoulder. (He was overcome by his feelings; he wept.)

She wasn't going to break down on the phone, wasn't going to beg him to come back.

break down

(b) it can express collapse of mental resistance

When the police called Cindy to ask questions, she broke down and confessed.

When are you going to break down and say yes?

break down

(c) when used of health it implies a serious physical collapse

Why would I want to put something harmful in my system that's going to cause me to break down?

Your grandma got sick, her health broke down from worry, and she died at the end of last year.

break down

(d) it is very often used of machines meaning ceasing to function properly, collapse

My motorcycle broke down in the middle of nowhere.

Networks break down and must be built and rebuilt.

break down

(e) it can be used of negotiations, communication

The peace talks eventually broke down and the two classes went to war on the quad during free period.

Communication with your teen can easily break down if you start dictating or lecturing.

break into smth/break in

(a) enter by force

He was in the control room when masked men broke in.

How did they get into the house? - They broke in from the garden side.

break into smth/break in

(b) interrupt someone by some sudden remark

Tim was going to say something else, but Greg broke in.

"All very interesting," Grahame broke in, "but you still haven't answered my question."

break off (smth)

(a) detach or become detached

He took a loaf of bread that was passed to him, broke off a bite, and handed it on.

Larry broke off a chunk of bread and swirled it around the olive oil.

break off (smth)

(b) terminate (used of agreements, negotiations, etc.)

He was charged with trying to blackmail a woman who broke off an affair with him.

The diplomatic ties between the two countries broke off in December 1998.

break off

stop talking suddenly, interrupt oneself

"That reminds me," he began, then broke off.

"There was no room for me," She broke off, unable and unwilling to continue.

break out

(a) begin (used of evils such as wars, epidemics, fires etc.)

A fight broke out and shots were fired.

World War II broke out in September 1939

break out

(b) escape by using force from a prison etc.

He broke out of the room they had him in. (smashed the door and escaped)

The murderer of an old man tried to break out of prison last night.

break up (smth)

disintegrate, cause to disintegrate

They broke up, and he came to me to confide his troubles.

Using a whisk, blend the ingredients thoroughly, making sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar or spice.

break up

terminate (used of school terms, meetings, parties etc.)

The rules said the party had to break up at midnight.

When the meeting broke up Mike and Terry invited me to join them for a coffee.

Police are to be called in when middle school teachers can't break up a fight.

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