Does the phrase "being broke" in this sentence make sense?

The pudding being broke to pieces by the fall, Tom crept out covered all over with the batter.

This is from a English fairy tale. I think this sentence is participial construction, so "being broken" is correct, isn't it? I have not ever come across the phrase "being + past form". Could you teach about "being broke"?

2 Answers 2


The batter filled Tom's mouth, and prevented him from crying; but, on feeling the hot water, he kicked and struggled so much in the pot that his mother thought that the pudding was bewitched, and, pulling it out of the pot, she threw it outside the door. A poor tinker, who was passing by, lifted up the pudding, and, putting it into his budget, he then walked off. As Tom had now got his mouth cleared of the batter, he then began to cry aloud, which so frightened the tinker that he flung down the pudding and ran away. The pudding being broke to pieces by the fall, Tom crept out covered all over with the batter, and walked home. His mother, who was very sorry to see her darling in such a woeful state, put him into a teacup, and soon washed off the batter; after which she kissed him, and laid him in bed.LINK

This is an older version of English from an old book and could have been written as early as 1621. LINK

Most languages change over centuries, and English is a good example of that. This likely means 'pudding*' -- what N Americans call 'dessert' and that it is spilled/broken and no longer usable. * It could also mean porridge or meal -- depending on the time and what people commonly said.

  • 2
    Quite right. OED marks broke as used here as an obsolescent form of broken.
    – choster
    Feb 16, 2017 at 19:35

It may be that it's out-of-date English. Yes, the conventional way to say that would be, "being broken".

  • Well, conventionally, pudding not being solid, we wouldn't apply any form of "break" to it nowadays, much less say it was in pieces.
    – jpmc26
    Feb 16, 2017 at 20:26
  • @jpmc26 The full story says "batter pudding" which was certainly "solid." Since it was made in a "pudding bag" is might have been like a large Yorkshire pudding which was then cut into individual servings. Or it could have been a "black pudding" which is basically a large skinless sausage made from meat offal and blood, and still available (in some parts of the UK) as takeaway fast food, deep-fried in batter.
    – alephzero
    Feb 16, 2017 at 21:22
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    @jpmc26 This is confusing to people who do not call dessert, pudding. Pie and cake qualify as pudding.
    – WRX
    Feb 16, 2017 at 21:27
  • @alephzero My apologies. I'd never heard of such a thing before. Thank you. =)
    – jpmc26
    Feb 16, 2017 at 21:30
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    @notstoreboughtdirt Yes, "broke to pieces" is a reasonably common phrase. But "broke" is a verb and you use the phrase as a verb. "I dropped the glass and it broke to pieces." Here it's being used as an adjective. You wouldn't say, "The glass is broke to pieces", you'd say, "The glass is broken to pieces."
    – Jay
    Feb 16, 2017 at 22:21

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