break down / break up


Senior Member
Hi everyone,

Please help me with this question:

To understand the grammar of the sentence,you must break it___into parts.
A. break down
B. break up
key A.

I've googled and found there are both " break down a sentence" and " break up a sentence", so what about this question? Is the answer the only correct one?

(BTW, I have searched the forum and found " break down /up into " mean the same thing)

Thank you.
Last edited:
  • Yichen

    Senior Member
    Thank you. A sentence more:
    He intends to break the company ______(up/down) into strategic business units.

    In this sentence, will both work?

    Thanks again.


    Senior Member
    I have thought about the difference for a long time. Maybe "break down" is used for something that is formed by components: you can break down something into its original parts and each new part is at least somewhat similar to the original ons. "break up" is used for something that hasn't its so-called original components and when something is broken up, we have new parts .Does this make sense?Thank you again.


    Senior Member
    American English
    It makes a little sense, yes ... but I can imagine the owners of a corporation built over the years by adding new companies eventually deciding to make these individual companies more or less autonomous again ... technically, that might be breaking down the corporation into its previous component companies. But I would still use "break up" -- and I would realize that my example might be a bit of a stretch. :)
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