BREAK IN and BREAK UP (Video + QUIZ) English Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verbs with BREAK
break in = force entry to a building or car etc.
“The window is cracked! It looks like a robber tried to break in.”
break in = interrupt
“Sorry to break in but may I ask a question?”
break in = to wear something, especially new shoes, until they become comfortable
“I just bought some new shoes. They look great but I need to break them in.”
break up = end a relationship
“I saw Harry and Brenda arguing in the park yesterday. I think they’re gonna break up.”
break (something) up – to make people leave something or stop doing something
“I saw some kids fighting so I had to step in and break it up.” it = the fight
break up = start laughing (informal)
“Everyone broke up laughing as soon as the monkey started dancing.”
*When breakup is written as one word OR connected with a hyphen (break-up) it is a noun that means: the ending of a relationship. “A family breakup can be very hard on the children.”

Why are phrasal verbs important?

Phrasal verbs are extremely common in casual English, learning to use phrasal verbs correctly will help you sound natural in casual conversation.

“Phrasal verbs are important because they are extremely common in informal English, and unless you are familiar with their meanings, understanding informal language will be difficult. In addition, learning to use phrasal verbs correctly will help you sound natural in casual conversation.”

Jane Mairs, Director of English language Learning Publishing

The best way to understand phrasal verbs is to use them in sentences. After I teach you the meaning I will give you natural example sentences that you can use right away.


Break in – phrasal verb meaning(s)

break in = force entry to a building or car etc.

“The window is cracked! It looks like a robber tried to break in.”

“You shouldn’t leave valuables in your car, someone might break in and steal them.”

valuablesnoun – things that are worth a lot of money, especially small personal things such as jewelry, cameras, etc.

“Never leave cash or other valuables lying around.”

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/valuables?q=valuables

*When BREAK IN comes before the building or place in our sentence, BREAK IN becomes BREAK INTO.

“Somebody BROKE INTO our office last night and stole my laptop!”

Let’s change the grammar of our second example:

“You shouldn’t leave valuables out in the open, someone might BREAK INTO your car and steal them.”

The thief tried to break in through the window.

break in = interrupt

“She wanted to break in on their conversation but didn’t want to seem rude.”

seem linking verb
seem (to somebody) (to be) something to give the impression of being or doing something
We often use seem with an adjective.
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/seem?q=seem

  • You seem happy.
  • Do whatever seems best to you.
  • She didn’t want to seem rude.

break in = to wear something until it becomes comfortable

These new jeans look great but they’re a little stiff. I need to break them in.

*We can put the object of our sentence in between the two words of our phrasal verb. In this example, THEM goes in between the words break and in.

stiffadjective – difficult to bend/move
~ stiff cardboard
~ a stiff brush
https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/stiff_1?q=stiff

I want to break in these shoes before the party.

Break up – phrasal verb

break up = end a relationship

“My girlfriend and I broke up before I moved to Australia.”

“I saw Harry and Brenda arguing in the park yesterday. It was serious. I think they’re gonna break up!”

argue verb – to speak angrily to somebody because you disagree with them

“My brothers are always arguing.”

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/argue?q=argue

We break up (with somebody)
“I broke up with my girlfriend before I moved to Australia.”

My girlfriend and I broke up before I moved to Australia.

break (something) up – to make people leave something or stop doing something

“I saw some kids fighting so I had to step in and break it up.” it = the fight

“I hate to break up your conversation but we have to leave now Mike.”

break up = start laughing (informal)

“Everyone broke up laughing as soon as the monkey started dancing.”

That comedian is so funny! He always breaks me up.

Click here for your interactive BREAK UP – BREAK IN quiz.
Test your understanding!

*Use this video to help your pronunciation too. As you watch the video, listen to the example sentences and then use the time after you listen to repeat the sentence. This is awesome pronunciation practice.

Here’s why repeating practice with full-sentence examples is great. Even though the focus of the video is learning a phrasal verb, you are also hearing adjectives, idioms, prepositions, and more used in natural English. This is very helpful. It’s how we learn our own native languages. We hear it in natural use.

Learn and use 50 Common Phrasal Verbs – video+PDF

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