Session 4

Vocabulary: 8 uses of 'break'

Sit back and enjoy the story of Romeo and Juliet and learn eight different ways to use the word 'break'

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2

Activity 2

What will happen to the star-crossed lovers?

Will Romeo and Juliet ever see each other again?
How do you think the story will end?

A) Romeo kills himself and Juliet lives
B) Juliet kills herself and Romeo lives
C) Romeo and Juliet kill each other
D) Something else 

To do

Watch the video and find out which option is correct. And listen out for four more uses of break.

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Jonny
Hello again, I'm Jonny. It's time to continue our story about romance and tragedy. Romeo has gone into hiding, after killing Juliet's cousin. What can Juliet do to find her husband again? Let's find out.

Juliet's parents don't know that she has already married Romeo. They demand that she marries a man called Paris. She breaks down in tears and tells them it's not what she wants. But then she has an idea – she agrees to marry but will break her promise by faking her death before her wedding day. She will then run away to be with Romeo. How romantic!

She drinks a potion which makes her look dead. Her parents find her lying lifeless and still and are obviously upset. They lay her in a tomb. Romeo hears about her death and, not knowing about her plan, goes to see her in the tomb. He too thinks she's dead. As you can imagine, he is very upset and decides to take his own life. He drinks from a bottle of poison and dies, the bottle falling to the floor, and breaking with a crash.

He's lying there in the tomb – dead – when Juliet finally wakes from her long sleep. She sees Romeo and is distraught. It breaks her heart and she feels there is nothing left in her life and decides to kill herself. She takes a sword and plunges it into her heart.

It's a tragic ending to what could have been a very different story.

Well, I hope you enjoyed today's story, despite its sad ending. See you again soon for another one. Bye for now.

To do

So, the correct answer was D) Something else - Romeo thinks Juliet is dead and so kills himself. Then when Juliet wakes up and sees that Romeo is dead, she also kills herself. What a sad story!

Now lets practise the different uses of break. Have a go at this quiz.

What's the use of 'break'?

5 Questions

It's nearly time for a break - but first try this quiz! Choose the best expression with break to fill each gap.

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Over to you

How was that? Now it's time for you to tell us a story! It can be a true story or an imagined one - but it must be your own original work. Try to use as many of the phrases with break as possible:

  • break the news 
  • break off 
  • break into 
  • break up 
  • break down 
  • break her promise 
  • break 
  • break her/his heart 

Email your story to us at learning.english@bbc.co.uk. Make sure you write 'break story' in the subject line and in your email too. Unfortunately, we can't give individual feedback, but we do read every email, and we’ll publish our favourites here or on our social media sites.

Your stories

Zaemisch

This is Zaemisch writing a story for you. I have named it “A Really Non Expected Surprise”. The story starts at midnight on April 23 in 1994. Everyone in the house was sleeping, except a five years aged boy: Nathanael.

He was waiting for his father to come, as it was the first time in Nathanael’s short life that his father had not arrived home early. No one told Nathanael about a problem at his father’s work, where a machine operator broke a huge glass at the building’s main entrance by accident. Nathanael’s father was in charge of the Maintenance Department, he was a Company’s partner as well.

The poor man might not be able to leave office until the problem was solved, otherwise, the Company would break up their business partnership… The Company would break off the business relationship they had! In the other hand, He could not get his tender son out of his head, thinking about the young boy being upset because he has broken his promise.

A day before, Nathanael’s father promised his son he will be given a new pair of glasses for swimming next day at night. Therefore, Nathanael was very happy to hear it and made everybody in the house know about it. Fortunately, Nathanael’s father had already bought the googles at the swimming articles store.

However, people in the house never thought that not telling Nathanael what was happening at his father work would make him sad. Maybe no one wanted to break the news to Nathanael.  At this point, Nathanael just wanted his father back home.

Nathanael realised there is nothing in the world better than family. No material thing would replace his father’s love. All this situation was breaking his heart. He was considering it, and suddenly, heard his father’s car got home.

He was so happy than he broke into his father’s car to give him a big hug. Both of them broke down in tears. After a while, Nathanael received the googles. Who do you think was really surprised?

BBC Learning English says:

Thanks for your heartwarming story, Zaemisch. You’ve used ‘break’ well in your piece. Something to consider: In your last sentence you say, “He was so happy than he broke into his father’s car to give him a big hug.” This suggests he damaged the car in some way because he forced his way into it. 

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Lineda, France

It’s not my story but this is the story of Maria a baby-sitter who didn’t do her job properly.

My neighbours wanted to go out for dinner two months ago and called Maria to take care of their children.

So far so good, Maria put the kids to bed and went to the living room and watched television.

She fell asleep on the sofa due to some medicine that Maria had taken to lose weight. As you can imagine, she didn’t hear the man who broke into the house, who stole money, jewellery and valuables and disappeared without leaving traces.

When she went into the parent’s bedroom, there was a mess everywhere. The room was untidy, drawers were opened, the floor

was littered with clothes, shoes and small bottles of fragrance were breaking on the carpet.

The scene broke her heart and she had never run up against a situation like this. All of a sudden she broke down and burst into tears. Lots of things were running through her head and how to break the news to the parents? She began to dread telling them what was happened. She felt very bad.

Her neighbours certainly would like to break up with her and she was aware of the big mistake.

She had broken the promise to keep an eye on everything inside the house.

BBC Learning English says:

Thanks Lineda – what a worrying story! You’ve used a great range of expressions with ‘break’. Do be careful with tenses – your sentence “…small bottles of fragrance were breaking on the carpet.” should be “…small bottles of fragrance were broken on the carpet.” Also, we use ‘to break up with’ to talk about romantic relationships, not friends or neighbours.

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Juan - Venezuelan Living in London

This is a story about young lovers. Following the context of the history listened in the Lesson, I want to share some experience about love, passion and loyalty. A long time ago, in a nice city a handsome guy had a relationship with a very professional lady; they were presumably a perfect couple in the light of their professional-emotional stability, beauty and singleness. Johann and Vivian were invited to go to a Wedding of a friend of her family, and in the party Johann looked at another young lady; Stephany, who was intensely chasing him, and immediately he was caught for her attractiveness and youth passion. Johann despite the Vivian and people in the party, he boldly invited to dance Stephany as he was breaking into a dangerous ground. Vivian noticed this and broke down.

In no time, Johann and Stephany started a secret relationship, in which Vivian was naively unaware, but one day Johann came to break her the news [this should be ‘break the news to her’]. He had previously attempted to break off [needs a subject – eg: ‘the relationship’] but with doubts, because he knows that although the romantic passion he felt for Stephany, the relationship with the Vivian would seemingly be more stable and the right choice.  Time after time, he tried to break up, but unfairly and cowardly he didn’t. He also didn’t want to break Stephany’s promise they had had in secret, independently of his rational thoughts about his stability with Vivian, so therefore one day he was determinate to break up and stops lying!

Then, that is how Johann and Stephany started a new relationship, but not at all went well. Later on, Stephany as a young confused girl came to Johann to break the news. She was insecure about her feelings and without regret she broke her promise and radically broke off [their relationship]. In the middle of the storm Johann felt like a broken-hearted boy, and the experience although break [broke] his happiness was a good lesson of love, passion and loyalty.

BBC Learning English says:

Hi Juan – thanks for sending this in and using some good examples.

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Next

That's the end of Session 4. In session 5, Tim's in the pronunciation workshop. Don't miss it!

Session Vocabulary

  • breaks the news (C2)
    tells someone about something bad

    break off (B2) 
    end a relationship

    breaks into (B1) 
    enters a place by force

    break up (B1) 
    end a relationship

    breaks down (B1) 
    gets upset; starts to cry

    break her promise (B2)  
    not do something she had agreed to do

    breaking (A2) 
    separating into smaller pieces

    breaks her heart (B2)
    makes her feel extremely sad