Wednesday, February 27, 2013

5 Phrasal Verbs: BREAK (down/in/into...)

Phrasal verbs (verbs + preposition/s) are commonly used in colloquial English and are usually difficult for students because their roots are not Latin-based.  Sometimes the meaning is literal, and other times it is figurative as seen here:

        Ex. to get down
    • During earthquake drills, everybody must get down beneath their desks and cover their heads.  (literal meaning)
    • In the 1970s everybody would get down to some James Brown at disco clubs!  (figurative meaning, to dance)

Here are 5 phrasal verbs with BREAK:

1.  to break into: to forcibly enter a building
  • Ex.  Somebody broke into the FBI and stole the names of American spies.
2.  to break out of: to escape from somewhere (usually prison)
  • Ex. News quickly spread that the former Taliban leader had broken out of Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
3.  to break down: a) car stops running (Note: Computers, cell phones or other small devices, objects DO NOT break down...they just break.  b) to have an emotional crisis
  • Ex. a)  My car broke down in the middle of rush hour traffic, so everybody started honking at me!
  • Ex. b)  After failing the entrance exam for the fifth time, she broke down and started crying.
4.  to break (something) down: to clarify a complicated issue, to divide
  • Ex.  The best teachers are able to break down a complicated concept and explain it in simplified pieces.
5.  to break (something) in: to begin to wear clothing or shoes to fit better or make more comfortable
  • Ex.  The dancer likes to break in her new ballet shoes for two weeks before beginning to dance in them.  


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