'Break' as in 'at break' and countability

feliz1984

Member
Polish
Hello,
Dictionaries say that break in this context (the time during the school day between classes) is uncountable:
I’ll speak to you at break.
They get together with their friends at break time.
(examples from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)

However, I wonder if it's possible to say that On Monday I have 4 breaks at school or two ten-minute breaks/one twenty-minute break (between lessons), etc. Are there any situations when it can work as a countable noun? I don't mean coffee breaks, taking a ten-minute break for lunch or pauses for ads on TV. Just the school day context. Or is it possible to make it countable as in the case of information, advice, etc. by adding a piece of? Sounds weird, though.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, it is an ordinary countable noun. If the school has two breaks, you can count them. But it depends on what it means in the school context. Casting our minds back to the Early Bronze Age when I was at school, there was a lunchtime and there was a mid-morning break called recess. There was only one recess, so you didn't count it. I believe in some schools 'break' is used this way: it's not just any old break (say, the five-minute break between classes to enable you to get from one room to the next), but a specific longer time: 'playlunch' is another word, from the Middle Jurassic period of my life. If there is only one recess/break in a school day, in this sense, you don't treat it as a countable noun.
     

    feliz1984

    Member
    Polish
    Thanks for your reply entangledbank.

    I've got one more question. Is it possible to use other perpositions with break instead of at?
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Oh yes: during the break, in the break. If it's a special single time like lunchtime, then also 'during' with no 'the': We stayed in the classroom during lunchtime/recess/break.
     

    Xavier da Silva

    Senior Member
    Question:

    In a context where I want to talk about break (period of time at school or college to rest (20, 30 minutes) for students in high school or college), does American English use:

    I’ll speak to you at break.
    They get together with their friends at break time.
    ?

    I suspect an AmE speaker would say "at the break", "at the break time" or "during the break". But I'm not exactly sure.

    Thank you in advance!
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In a context where I want to talk about break (period of time at school or college to rest (20, 30 minutes) for students in high school or college), does American English use:
    There is no such thing (that is standard) in American high school or college. In pre-school (before 1st grade), children might have a "nap time" for resting. In elementary school, there is recess for playing. In high school, you have "between classes" when you're supposed to be preparing and traveling to your next class and lunch for eating. No time for resting. College is less structured, i.e. students may have completely different schedules.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    In my experience, a "break" in schools is a small period of time. If something is a whole hour (or a whole "period", the time period used for one class) it has a different name.

    In my junior high and high school "lunch" was an entire period, since some students had lunch while other students had a class. We had no "breaks" during the school day, except the brief time between classes. Every "period" on your schedule had something in it: lunch, or a class, or an assigned study hall in a specific room.

    But non-school scheduled events (a series of meetings; a seminar) often have "breaks" listed as part of the schedule.
     
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