break up: meaning and explanation

to break up (with somebody) = to end a relationship (with somebody)

If we are talking about a couple, then we can just use break up, not break up with somebody. e.g. Have you heard that Tom and Sarah broke up while they were on holiday?

When you talk about one person in a relationship, then we use break up with somebody. This might be because it was that person’s decision, or just because they are more important to us. e.g. Have you heard that Tom broke up with Sarah while they were on holiday? 

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this phrasal verb being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: North American

Dan .
Dan his girlfriend and hasn't .
Dan up with his girlfriend year and still hasn't over it.

…he still hasn’t got over it

Do you remember the meaning of the the phrasal verb to get over someone/something?

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • Have any of your friends broken up with their partners recently? What happened?
  • Do you know any couples who you think should break up? Why?
  • Is it possible to stay friends after breaking up with somebody?

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Laura Leviller
Laura Leviller

A friend broke up wilth his girlfriend recently. It was so hurt for him. I’ve tried to talk with him in this days, but he still didn’t get over.


In some degree, breaking up with a couple will always be something sad. Getting over them could last days or months depending on the strength of feelings of each other.

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