Break Out of the Ordinary with Phrasal Verbs

woman biting into dark chocolate 78629003As examples like chocolate, vacations, and friends can prove, there is no such thing as too much of a good thing* and we are here to tell you that phrasal verbs are no different. Just take these examples – all of which use the base verb “break” – if you don’t believe us!

Break … Off – to end something (typically in a dramatic or sudden way)

  • James was in the middle of a call with his girlfriend when, without warning, the connection broke off completely.

Note: Although the above example may not sound so serious, it is quite common to use “break off” to describe the conclusions of friendships, relationships, or engagements.

Break … Off – to take a smaller piece off a larger chunk

  • Although Jill and Sandy each bought different candy bars, each broke off a piece so that the other the other could try some.

Note: Context, no grammar, will help you determine which of the two versions of “break off” is being used in a given situation.

Break out / – appear in a sudden or unexpected way

  • With resentment against the government at all-time highs many observers were concerned that violence could break out at any moment.

Note: It is this meaning of break out that explains why people sometime refer to a bad case of acne as a “breakout”.

Break Out Of / – to escape

  • The dog was a real escape artist – she could always find a way to break out of any place her owners tried to leave her!

Note: This phrasal verb should not be confused with the two word “break out” which, though less common, means to use something special (as in champagne in a celebration).

* In fact, if you are interested in seeing our complete overview of phrasal verbs you can see it here.

Want to learn more about other confusing words? Check out our other blog posts on Phrasal Verbs and learn more tips and tricks at our Learn English section.


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