we broke down completely

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Senior Member
Persian - پارسی
About five miles into our journey the engine cut out and we broke down completely. It was over an hour before the rescue service turned up.
English Phrasal Verbs in use

Does the bold part work for you?
I could happily say the above sentence without the subject "we", but have it included sounds somehow peculiar in the given context, to me. What do you think about it?
  • Linguisticks

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    It's a bit tautologous. If the engine cut out, the car obviously broke down. So you could just say: "About five miles into our journey we broke down." You don't need "completely", either. A breakdown is generally understood to be "complete", in the sense that it means the car won't go any more.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's the idiomatic way people talk about (especially) car travel, or at least it's one very commonly used option.

    "We had a flat" means "our car (or "the car we were in") had a flat tire."

    "We had a breakdown" means "our car had a breakdown".

    Whatever happens to the car, happens to the group using the car for transportation.

    "We hit a pothole and swerved into a ditch. Now we're stranded."

    Check out this ngram comparing "we had a flat" with "the car had a flat".
    Google Ngram Viewer
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