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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    Maybe only context can tell either "out of order" or "broken into pieces", so when you hear the following, you may not know which one it is. What do you think?

    ex)My cellphone is broken.
    After this,
    1)I have to have it fixed (out or order)
    2)I was hurt by one of the pieces.(into pieces)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    NOT A TEACHER

    If my cell was in pieces, I'd say that it is smashed. If it had, say a malfunctioning display, I'd say it's broken.

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    If you hear something is broken, does it always make you think it's malfunctioning?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    If you hear something is broken, does it always make you think it's malfunctioning?
    Hi!
    Just saying "My cellphone is broken." is quite a vague way of describing the situation, as you say.
    So...as CarloSsS suggests, we should choose the most suitable word(s) on every occasion or give further explanation (of 'how' it is broken : broken into pieces, broken apart, smashed, shattered...or you could even explain, "I think my cellphone is broken. It smells like fish.").
    I'm not a native speaker.(Please wait for some native speakers to respond.)
    Last edited by tzfujimino; 19-May-2012 at 17:10.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    The VAST majority of the time, if you refer to a piece of equipment and say "it's broken," I will assume you mean is it malfunctioning or not working at all.

    If you refer to something that doesn't "work" (like a vase, a dish, a pencil, a chair, etc.) and say "it's broken" I will assume you mean it came apart in some way.

    We live in a real world. Things don't happen without some context. You will not suddenly appear next to me on the street, utter the phrase "it's broken" and leave me with no context to guess whether you mean "non-functioning" or "in pieces."

    Use your knowledge of the real world to draw likely conclusions.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    [QUOTE=Barb_D;883490]The VAST majority of the time, if you refer to a piece of equipment and say "it's broken," I will assume you mean is it malfunctioning or not working at all.

    Can we use "broken down" to refer to the above?

    Thanks a lot.

  7. #7
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    "Broken down" is for larger pieces of machinery. A car, for example.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  8. #8
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    "Broken down" is for larger pieces of machinery. A car, for example.
    Thanks a lot,Barb_D.

    'Broken' can be defined 1: separated into parts or pieces by being hit, damaged, etc.
    2: not workingproperly.
    Other than 'broken, can we use "out of order " to refer to malfunctioning or not working of a piece of smaller equipment such as flashlight or can opener?

    Thanks again
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 20-May-2012 at 15:58.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    NOT A TEACHER

    "Out of order" is used for non-working equipment in public places, such as elevators, restrooms or public phones. Thus you wouldn't use "out of order" for a flashlight or a can opener.

  10. #10
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: broken(out of order) vs broken(into pieces)?

    Thanks a lot, CarloSsS.

    "Broken" can be meant 1: separated into parts or pieces by being hit, damaged, etc. or 2: not working properly.

    A: Do you have any flashlight?
    B: The flashlight is broken. (I do not know whether it is in def. 1 separated into.... or def 2. not working properly.

    Thanks



    Last edited by Winwin2011; 20-May-2012 at 17:20.

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