Break Down

How to Conjugate Break Down

  • Infinitive: Break Down
  • Present Tense: Break Down/ Breaks Down
  • -ing Form: Breaking Down
  • Past Tense: Broke Down
  • Past Participle: Broken Down
Break Down is a separable phrasal verb and has 6 definitions.

Definitions of Break Down:

1. When someone loses self-control and is emotionally and/or mentally agitated.
This meaning has a noun form for a situation where someone loses self-control.

Examples: She broke down in tears after she heard about her boyfriend cheating.
Michelle started breaking down when she saw the horrific news on television.
[Noun] Michelle’s breakdown caused her mother to have a breakdown too.

2. When you use any kind of force to go through a locked door.

Examples: Geez! How many doors do we have to break down to exit this building?
Police officers will break down a door to arrest a suspect, if they have to.

3. When something is not functioning correctly.
This meaning has an adjective form for describing a situation where something is in bad condition or is broken.

Examples: Our road trip was going well, until our car broke down in the middle of nowhere!
My computer lasted for 10 years before it finally broke down.
[Adj] The company restores broken-down toys and equipment so they can resell them on eBay.

4. When you simplify a complicated idea, thought, process, situation, etc.

Examples: Please break the process down into simple terms, so everyone can understand it.
Can you break it down for me one more time, please?

5. When a negotiation or an agreement/arrangement is not completed due to lack of cooperation.
This meaning has a noun form for a situation where a negotiation/plan/agreement was not finished.

Examples: Liz and Mark ended their engagement immediately after their prenuptial agreement broke down.
Trade negotiations with Russia nearly broke down last week.
[Noun] The breakdown of their life together made him sad.

6. When a substance is reduced to its smallest parts.

Examples: Did you know that the liver is the organ responsible for breaking down alcohol in your body so you don’t get poisoned?
A molecule is made up of two or more atoms, so if you break down a molecule, there will be two or more atoms.

See our complete list of English phrasal verbs.