As an idiom in English, the phrase give me a break has three different meanings and uses. For today’s English lesson, let’s have a look at this common and very useful idiom. By the way, the pronunciation is Gimme a break! Check the audio file below.
First of all, we use give me a break to mean “I don’t believe you!” or “That can’t be true!” When someone says something that sounds unbelievable or untrue, you can say, Give me a break! Here are a few examples:
- Bob: I heard that someone jumped off the Empire State Building with a parachute.
- Joe: Give me a break! The security in that building is too tight for such a stunt.
- Ted: Joe said that he saw Johnny Depp at the diner on 6th Ave.
- Jen: Give me a break! I doubt any movie star would eat at that crappy diner.
We also use Give me a break! when someone is bothering us. In this case it means, “Stop bothering me, please!” or “Ok, that’s enough!”
- Jack: Are you finished yet? I want to watch TV?
- Jane: Jack! Give me a break! I told you I am studying for an important exam. Go watch TV at your friends house.
- Dan: Isn’t dinner ready yet? I’m so hungry!
- Serena: Oh, give me a break! It’s not easy to cook popovers.
Lastly, we use Give me a break! when someone is scolding us or reprimanding us for something. Here, the meaning is “Don’t be so harsh!” or “Please be more lenient with me.”
- Boss: You know you’ve been late twice this week.
- Worker: Can you give me a break? My daughter caught the flu and I’ve needed more time to care for her in the morning.
- Policeman: Miss, you were driving too fast on that street.
- Danielle: I’m sorry officer. Please give me a break! I am going to a job interview and if I am late, I’ll never get the job.
If you know anyone who might be interested in this English language point, why not help them out! Just share this lesson with them. Thanks for studying today!
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Pingback: Oh, please, gimme a break… | Marju's English Blog
Give me some slack?
Hi Marju. Nice idea, thanks. Give me some slack also has the meaning of “Don’t be so harsh!” or “Please be more lenient with me.” Thanks a lot for sharing!
Is the expression. spare me as common as give me a break and should be used in similar contexto?
Great question Sergio! Yes, we also use “spare me” when we here something unbelievable or untrue, but not in the other cases. Thanks for asking!