30 Phrasal Verbs with Break

Phrasal verbs with break are common in the English language. Understanding most of them is important, because they can be used to create powerful expressions. As we will see in a minute, each of these phrasal verbs is usually used to describe a physical or emotional break.  Some common phrasal verbs with break include break down, break in, break out, and break up. So let’s not dilly-dally and just jump over to my great list of break phrasal verbs

break away from sb./sth.

  • Definition: to free yourself from something or someone that restricts you
  • Example

Jenna broke away from his grip and rushed out of the house. 

break down (1)

  • Definition: to stop functioning
  • Example

Our car broke down after 20 minutes on the road.  

break down (2)

  • Definition: to fail because of a problem or disagreement, usually referring to communication
  • Example

Negotiations broke down between both companies after their disagreement.  

break down (3)

  • Definition: to fail because of a problem or disagreement, usually referring to communication
  • Example

She being so kind and concerned that Lewis broke down and cried. 

break in

  • Definition: (no object) to enter a place illegally and/or by force
  • Example

The burglars broke in through one of the windows, which was open.   

break in on sth. 

  • Definition: to interrupt or interject a conversation
  • Example

The secretary broke in on our meeting to let him know he had a call.  

break into a place

  • Definition: to enter a place illegally and/or by force
  • Example

Apparently, the robbers broke into the bank using guns and threatening everyone.  

break into sth. (1)

  • Definition: to start doing something suddenly
  • Example

He broke into a run as soon as he heard the news.  

break into sth. (2)

  • Definition: to manage to have success in a difficult profession or area of business
  • Example

She finally broke into films after acting in plays for decades.  

break off (1)

  • Definition: to break and separate a piece from something
  • Example

George broke off a piece of bread and passed the rest to me.  

break off (2)

  • Definition: to stop talking or doing something abruptly
  • Example

He broke off the summit meeting before it had got properly started. 

break out (1)

  • Definition: to begin suddenly, often something dangerous or unpleasant
  • Example

War broke out between both countries in the late 90s.  

break out (2)

  • Definition: when something suddenly appears on your skin
  • Example

My son breaks out in a rash if he has nuts. He’s very allergic.  

break out of somewhere

  • Definition: to escape from somewhere (a place or situation)
  • Example

The inmate managed to break ouf of jail twice in five years.   

break sth off

  • Definition: to end a relationship or association with someone
  • Example

Ruth doesn’t seem to want to break things off with her long-time boyfriend.

break sth. down (1)

  • Definition: to separate something (e.g. a substance) into the elements that make it up
  • Example

Water can break many substances down and dissolve them, but that doesn’t happen to oil. 

break sth. down (2)

  • Definition: to hit a door or barrier so hard that it falls to the ground
  • Example

The police kicked in the door and broke it down.   

break sth. down (3)

  • Definition: to explain something step by step
  • Example

Great teachers know how to break things down so that students understand them. 

break sth. in

  • Definition: to make new clothes comfortable by wearing them
  • Example

These shoes are quite tight; I hope I can break them in a bit before the wedding.

break (an animal) in

  • Definition: to train or domesticate an animal, especially a horse
  • Example

The horses were very good to ride once the trainer had broken them in.  

break sth. open

  • Definition: to open something by force
  • Example

I left my keys inside the car, so I had to break it open.   

break sth. up

  • Definition: to stop a fight
  • Example

The bouncers had to break up the fight before it got more serious. .  

break through sth. (1)

  • Definition: to pass through a barrier that is holding you back
  • Example

The protesters at the demonstration tried to break through a police cordon. 

break through sth. (2)

  • Definition: to go higher than a certain or expected level
  • Example

She broke through all previous records with that time.  

break up (1)

  • Definition: to be unable to hear someone when you’re talking on the phone
  • Example

Could you speak louder, please? You’re breaking up.  

break up (2)

  • Definition: to end a business or personal relationship
  • Example

They’re no longer in business together; they’ve broken up.  

break up (3)

  • Definition: used when a school term ends and the holidays start
  • Example

It’s the last week before their course breaks up for Chrismtas. 

break up into sth.

  • Definition: to divide something into smaller pieces
  • Example

He took the bar of chocolate and broke it up into smaller pieces.  

break up with sb.

  • Definition: to finish a romantic relationship with someone
  • Example

Joanne broke up with Jim just after he proposed.  

break with

  • Definition: to end a relationship or association with (someone or an organization or social group)
  • Example

Sue is starting to break with the religious tradition she was brought up in.  

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Overall, phrasal verbs with break are quite common in the English language, so it’s important to be familiar with most of them. This will help you communicate more effectively and avoid confusion.

I hope you found this post useful. If you did, don’t forget to share with your friends and family. 🙂 I’ll see you in the next post. Until then, don’t forget to keep smiling!

Picture of Luis @ KSE Academy

Luis @ KSE Academy

Luis Porras Wadley is the owner and director of KSE Academy, an English academy and official Cambridge Exam Preparation Centre based in Granada. As an English teacher, Luis has been preparing Cambridge candidates successfully for more than ten years. He is the author of some successful test preparation books, including Speaking First, Speaking CAE, Speaking CPE, Use of English C1 and The Ultimate B2 First Writing Guide.

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