Welcome to twominenglish.com. Teaching you English through two-minute lessons.
In this lesson, let's learn about the meaning and use of the phrasal verb ‘break down'.
Ernesto: Let's discuss the phrasal verb ‘break down' today.
Nina: I know a bit about it. ‘Break down' means crying.
Ernesto: You're right. When one is unable to control his emotions he or she may break down in tears. However, ‘break down' can also mean a damage in a machine or a car when it stops working.
Nina: Funny you've mentioned it. My car broke down earlier today!
Ernesto: Ouch! Sorry about that, Nina. But ‘break down' also means to resolve something, ending a long dispute. For example: ‘Finally the case broke down when Henry agreed to compensate'.
Nina: Yes, ‘break down' means solving a task. This phrasal verb also means an in-depth analysis of something, breaking something else into parts.
Ernesto: Exactly! A complex problem may be solved by breaking it down to a number of smaller steps or parts.
Nina: Absolutely! It means to divide into smaller parts or to separate. But it also means to force someone to give up, to tell a secret or make make someone agree to do something.
Ernesto: Yeah! Like breaking up a terrorist group! That's breaking down something. Now, breaking down something also means to destroy or ruin it.
Nina: So many possibilities! We should listen to some conversations with examples now.
Ernesto: Great idea!
Candice: Ron, why don't you service your car?
Ron: I will do it in the evening.
Candice: It might break down any moment now.
Ron: Yeah, I know. My dad finally broke down and gave me some money to get it fixed.
Candice: Good for you!
Candice: Ron, can you look at this math problem?
Ron: Hmmm...linear algebra. It's always better to break down such problems into smaller steps.
Candice: Wow! You've always been so good in solving problems!
Ron: I wish I could be so quick with real life problems too. They break me down all the time.
Candice: Don't worry, Ron. These family matters are just a temporary bother.
Ron: Why so gloomy today, Candice?
Candice: Nothing much, I had to lock horns with my brother.
Ron: What happened?
Candice: He broke down the dog house.
Candice: Then what? He ruined it, so I broke down crying.
Ron: Sorry to hear it!
Candice: That's fine. He promised to build a new one today.