broken x useless

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ralife, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. ralife Senior Member

    Portuguese
    Hello, all.

    Is it possible to use "useless" and "broken" as synonims of "out-of-order"?

    It sounds to me that "out-of-order" is a bit formal. But in an informal situation, such as at home, can the two other words be used?


    1) Daddy, the toilet flush is useless (out of order)

    2) Mom, the toilet flush is broken

    Thanks!
     
  2. Sabretooth Senior Member

    Buffalo, NY, USA
    American English
    The toilet is broken. :tick:
    The toilet is useless. :cross:
    The toilet is out of order. :tick: (This would usually be used in a public place, not around the house.)
     
  3. ralife Senior Member

    Portuguese
    Thank you, Sabretooth
     
  4. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    There is a difference between a broken toilet and an out-of-order toilet.

    This is a broken toilet.

    This is an out-of-order toilet.
     
  5. dadane Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (London/Essex)
    That is indeed a 'broken toilet', a toilet with a non-functional flushing mechanism is also a 'broken toilet'. 'Out of order' is correct for signage but I can't imagine it being applied to a toilet, television, toaster, or anything else in everyday informal speech.
     
  6. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    How about an elevator?
     
  7. dadane Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (London/Essex)
    No, I would say 'the lift is broken [, take the stairs]'.

    Edit: If for some reason I really needed to disambiguate, I would say 'the lift has broken down'.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  8. SwissPete

    SwissPete Senior Member

    94044 USA
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Maybe an AE / BE difference.

    An "out-of-order elevator" is common in the US.
     
  9. ralife Senior Member

    Portuguese
    thank you!
     

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