As any student of English – or regular reader of our phrasal verbs blog series – can tell you, one of the most interesting things about phrasal verbs is their sheer abundance. As the following examples with break prove, although a set of almost identical phrasal verbs can seem overwhelming at first, practice – and context – can help!
Break For – to move quickly toward
- In an effort to free himself from his captors the hero made a break for the exit when they weren’t looking.
Note: As in the above example, this phrasal verb is often combined with “make a” to create the larger expression “make a break for”.
Break Through / – to pass through a barrier or obstacle by force
- The crowd at the concert was so thick that Tammy had to break through a big line of people to make her way to the bathrooms.
- After six months of digging, the bank robbers broke through the final wall separating them from the bank’s reserves.
Break up / – to stop a conflict or fight
- The principal broke up fights between his students on an almost daily basis.
Break up / – to separate into smaller pieces
- Because clam chowder was his favorite type of soup Mark always took the time to carefully break up a few packets of crackers before he took his first bite.
Note: These two meanings of break up are clearly related but used in such entirely different ways that we believe they warrant separate entries.
Break up / – to end a relationship with someone or something
- Things had gotten so bad between Patrick and Janet that many of their friends were worried that the two would break up soon.
- Patrick broke up with Jane after she admitted to having an affair.
Note: As in the second example, this phrasal verb is commonly followed by “with” when it is used as an active verb.
Want more phrasal verbs with the word break? Check out our more recent blog post on Break With.