burst into tears, cry, break down in tears

brown poodle

Senior Member
korean
In the following sentence, which one is the best? I went through the threads and found out that there is slight difference in meaning, but I think all the three expressions seem to be OK. What do you think?
Some of them burst into tears/broke down in tears/cried and screamed, arguing that the age of the ship, which was commissioned in 1989, could have contributed to the disaster.
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I cannot imagine anyone being capable of any form of argument if they broke down in tears, or even if they burst into tears. Are you sure that "cried" here does not mean "shouted"?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    What's the source of the sentence, please?
    It's hard for people to argue when they are crying, so the sentence is puzzling.
    I too suspect 'cried' should be 'shouted' to go with 'screamed'. The difference between the first two is that 'broke down in tears' suggests physical collapse as well as crying, tears from the eyes, not noise from the mouth.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    what do you mean exactly? I am a little bit confused .
    The construction of the sentence says that all the things were done at the same time by the same group of people ("some of them"):
    • they burst into tears/broke down in tears/cried
    • they screamed
    • they argued that the age of the ship could have contributed to the disaster
    Quite honestly, even shouting and screaming does not fit in very well with arguing anything.

    What had just happened to provoke this reaction?
     
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