Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between break and brake

English is a funny language where there are so many words that have the same meaning yet cannot always be used as a replacement for each other. There are so many rules, all with some exceptions and yet other rules that are contradictory to them. In addition to this, there are words that have the same spelling but are pronounced differently. For example the verb ‘read’ and its past tense read’. Both have the same spelling but the former is a request to perform reading and is pronounced like reed whereas the latter means that the reading has already been performed and the word is pronounced like ‘red’. As if this was not enough, there are even those words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and therefore different meanings. An example would be of ‘sea’ and ‘see’. We will assume here that you have come across such words and understand what we are talking about. Such words are known as homophones. Others examples of homophones include by and buy, write and right, piece and peace, weak and week etc. The pair of homophones that we will be dealing with is break and brake.

Like all homophones, break and brake have the same pronunciation but different spellings and hence different meanings. These are two words that we use commonly in our spoken language and owing to the situation or sentence, can easily infer which of the two is being referred to. However, the same words are not so easily distinguished by some people when it comes to written English. Be it primary school level or some very high levels, such as people working in offices, of using brake instead of break or vice versa is a common one. The mistake can be simply due to carelessness or due to the fact that the difference in spelling is not understood; the latter being a cause of concern. Let us make it easier for our readers to differentiate the two.

The word brake has a unique meaning and is usually used in just that one connotation. A brake is that part of a vehicle that enables it to stop by slowing it down. It is a restrain that ensures that the car stops. It uses a force against the momentum of the car so as to slow it down by increasing the friction that the wheels have to face. You may have come across the phrases, ‘slam the brakes’ or ‘hit the brake’. These refer to the braking that we are talking about. The word brake is always used as a noun.

As opposed to this, the word break has nothing to do with vehicles; it also has a unique meaning but can be used in a number of connotations. The word meaning of break is to terminate or shatter. The latter is a situation whereby break is used as a verb. It means to shatter something or split it into pieces. To say that ‘I broke my arm’ would mean that I fractured my arm or had my bone split into two pieces. The other meaning of break is to terminate whereby it is used as a noun. To say that ‘I had pasta in my lunch break’ would refer to the time off that an employee gets for lunch. Similarly if someone gets fed up of something, it is common for them to exclaim, ‘I need a break!’ This once again refers to the person asking for some time off from the topic being discussed. Now that we have differentiated the two with examples, we hope that you will remember to give a second thought when using the words break or brake in written manner in the future!

Summary of differences expressed in points

1. Brake-part of a vehicle that enables it to stop by slowing it down. It is a restrain that ensures that the car stops. It uses a force against the momentum of the car so as to slow it down by increasing the friction that the wheels have to face; Break- has a unique meaning but can be used in a number of connotations. The word meaning of break is to terminate or shatter

2. Brake-always used as a noun; break- can be used as a noun or verb

3. Example for brake: ‘He slammed the brakes and the car came to a halt’; Example for break: “You need to take a break, you have been working all morning”


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