I hate to break it to you

Discussion in 'English Only' started by amateurr, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. amateurr

    amateurr Senior Member

    This comes from the show the Vampires Diaries S1E18.

    Two brothers/vampires Damon and Stefan are talking about Stefan's restraint towards human blood.

    Stefan: You're really enjoying this, aren't you? Just watching me in a struggle.
    Damon: Very much so.
    Stefan: I hate to break it to you, Damon, but I actually have it under complete control.

    Could you tell me what means "break it" here? "Say it"?

  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    It means "I hate to be the first one to tell you this, Damon, but..."
  3. amateurr

    amateurr Senior Member

    So, "break it" implies to be the first one then. Interesting!
  4. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    We use "break the news to someone" primarily about bad news. It may also be used sarcastically, but the primary meaning is "tell someone bad news".
  5. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong

    This explanation has me wondering if you can use it with "bad news".
    Does this mean you wouldn't use this phrase in a very sadden but lighthearted situation?
  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    It is the "I hate to" part of the phrase that creates to irony, not the "break it to" part. The "I hate to" part means exactly the opposite; the person who is saying it is, in fact "very happy to..."

    So, in the case of bad news:
    e.g. "A police officer was sent to the Smith's house to break the [sad] news to them that their son had died in an accident."

    There is a similar construction, "I hate to [be the one to] tell you [this] but..." this can be used neutrally to introduce bad news,

    "I hate to tell you but your dog is terminally ill."
    "I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the company is bankrupt and everyone has lost their job."
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  7. redgiant Senior Member

    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thanks PaulQ. I agree with you on all counts. Stefan in OP's example is being sarcastic. He's quite happy to burst Damon's bubble.

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