Break as an Idiom

This is a 15 – 20 minute lesson for intermediate to advanced learners presenting a common interpretation of idioms utilizing the word break.

Begin the activity by playing the game hangman with the word OPPORTUNITY. Ask the students what the word means to them. Write some of the answers on the board. If they do not say, good fortune or chance, introduce those interpretations. Discuss what they consider a good opportunity.

Introduce the idiom coffee break or take a break. Tell the students that the word break, in the noun form, is used in many idioms to mean opportunity/good fortune.

Write the following idioms on the board and discuss their meaning in conjunction with the theme.

Give me a break.                              Make a break for it.
Bad break.                                        Break a leg
Caught a _______ break. (lucky, bad, good, fortunate, and null form)

Remember to discuss the differences between the phrasal verb and noun forms. These nouns forms have a common underlying meaning. The phrasal verb forms have numerous meanings. Example: broke and break the bank.

Extension activity: Using break as a phrasal verb.

Most phrasal verbs have more than one meaning. A common alternate meaning of phrasal verbs with the verb break is to stop.

Break up – to stop a relationship
Break it up – to stop a fight.
Break down – to stop working.
Break in – to interrupt, to stop a conversation.

This concept only works with a handful of the phrasal verbs. However, it is a good way to begin remembering and understanding the idiomatic meanings.

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