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How to use “Break down” 4 ways (Learn Phrasal Verbs)

Phrasal verb – Break down

Break Down – Stop working (for a machine)
My scooter breaks down every month. I think it’s time to buy a new one. 
Break Down – Become very upset, very emotional.
Alice broke down crying when she heard the news.
Break Down – To divide into smaller parts (break something down)
The director broke down his filmmaking process for the audience at the film festival. 
Break Down – To fail (Often used with the past participle BROKEN)
Talks between the two countries have broken down.

Thanks to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries Break down

Break Down #1. Stop working (for a machine)

  • “I was driving to work today and my car broke down.
    My car stopped working.
  • “I have two rice cookers at my restaurant, if one breaks down I always have a spare.”
    If one rice cooker stops working it’s no problem because I have a second rice cooker that I can use.
grayscale photo of people standing near the wrecked vintage car

My car broke down again.

Break Down #2. Become very upset, very emotional.

  • “His mother broke down after hearing the news that Clark was in jail.”
    Clark’s mother became very upset and emotional when she found out her son was in jail.
grayscale photography of woman touching her eyes

Jennifer broke down as soon as she got home.

Break Down #3. To divide into smaller parts (break something down)

  • “Learning English was difficult at first, but my teacher broke the grammar down and gave many examples. Then it was easy to understand.”
    My teacher divided the English grammar into smaller parts which made it easier to understand.
man in beige blazer holding tablet computer

Thanks for breaking the lesson down for us Mr. Jones.

Break Down #4. To fail

  • Brian and Shelly’s relationship had completely broken down after just six months.
    *This phrasal verb is often used with perfect tense grammar. HAVE + the past participle of the verb.
woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench

All communication has broken down.

Break down – Bonus use

Bonus – Break down can also be used to forcefully knock down or remove something in your way. Often used with doors or with barriers.

  • Firefighters broke down the door to get into the burning building and saved people inside.
    Firefighters forcefully knocked down the door so the could enter the building.
  • The new law will break down barriers for people with disabilities trying to find work.
    The new law will removes things that keep disabled people from finding jobs.

You can learn more about the noun BREAKDOWN at Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries HERE.

The phrasal verb Break Down in the news

Dietitians Break Down The Rock’s 1,820-Calorie ‘Breakfast of Champions’

‘PAINFUL’ Peaky Blinders fans break down in tears over heartbreaking funeral scenes after character’s tragic death

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