A show my mother is watching goes on a break (my mom was not there at that time). So I turned to another channel. So my mom asks me why had I changed the channel. So I say:

  1. The show is on a break.

  2. The show went on a break.

Is the use of :"on" natural?

And what about:

  1. So it's time to go on a short break. Well be right back, so just stick around. (TV host says this)
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    Is it on a commercial break (two or three minutes in the middle of a show), on holiday/vacation break (a week or two with no new episodes in the middle of a season), or on break between seasons (potentially months with no new eposodes)?
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 18:38
  • I'm a bit confused everyone. So what would be used in AmE? Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:38
  • As I laid out, it depends what type of break you’re talking about. The answers seem to focus on commercial breaks, a short break in the middle of an episode, for which I’d probably say it’s “on commercial break” or just “on commercials.” My wife (also a native speaker) is suggesting “gone to commercials.”
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:59

3 Answers 3


"A break" can mean a few things, but in this context, it normally means either a scheduled break in continuity or an interruption to normal continuity. When the break is defined or intentional then it is normal to say that you are "on" that break.

You give the example of a "commercial break" on TV which occur during programming to allow for commercials to be shown. These have a defined beginning and an end. They are often announced by saying "Let's take a break". During that time you could say that the program is "on a commercial break".

It is similar to the way people speak of vacations (which is also a "break" from work, or your normal routine) - you take a vacation, and during it you are spoken of as being "on vacation".

Note that there are other, more idiomatic ways of stating that a programme is currently taking a commercial break, such as "it's gone to commercial".

  • Is this right too:So it's time to go on a short break. Well be right back, so just stick around. (TV host says this) @Astralbee Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:01
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    @It'saboutEnglish Absolutely. "We'll be right back" is specifying that the upcoming break is scheduled and has a limit, and that the show will resume after the break. "Stick around" is an encouragement to stay tuned to the channel, likely to make you watch the commercials.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:09
  • No I mean is the use of "go on a break" natural? @Astralbee Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:37
  • @It'saboutEnglish If you're talking about a commercial break, then no. A show "going on a break" always means the show itself is being taken off the air for some amount of time (such as weeks). If you mean going on a commercial break, then say going on a commercial break.
    – user91988
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 21:01
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    @phoog I'm guessing BrE due to the use of the word "programme". Could be AuE though; I'm not familiar with that. Or some unfamiliar dialect of AmE.
    – Hearth
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 1:03

It's correct, but not common in my experience. Phrases like

It's on commercial

It's on a commercial

are more common, I believe. That said, it's perfectly valid.

  • And what about:So it's time to go on a short break. Well be right back, so just stick around. (TV host says this)@Maclain Anderson Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:00
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    Yes, it's very common for TV hosts to say 'on a break', like in your example. For some reason, it's just not as common for somebody watching TV to say that, but still just as natural sounding. Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:43
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    @It'saboutEnglish "on a break" is idiomatic for a much longer thing, for example, a show which airs once weekly would be "on a break" if it took a few weeks off between episodes. While you're right that the hosts will talk about taking a break, it's generally not a way that viewers refer to the commercial break.
    – David Rice
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 18:09
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    Anything to do with the word "commercial" in this context applies specifically to US English. In British English we call these "adverts", and a commercial break an "ad break" (which we might indeed just call a break).
    – Muzer
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 19:05
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    @DavidRice in my experience, "went to commercial" is probably more common, at least in the context of broadcast jargon.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:04

In English English I'd probably say 'It's the adverts'. American English might say 'It's the break'.

  • 1
    I would be far more likely to say "it's the commercials." Broadcasters often used "commercial break" in the past, which has been shortened to "break," but I find that more something that broadcasters would say rather than viewers.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 0:57
  • Does "it's the commercials" mean : Commercials are on that channel right now,that is the show is on commercial? Or does it describe the "commercials"?@phoog Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 13:02
  • @It'saboutEnglish As with any pronoun, the "it" in "it's the commercials" could refer to just about anything depending on the context. If I were watching some movie, and someone came in during the commercials, and said "I thought you were watching that movie," I might say "it's the commercials" by way of explaining that the television is tuned to the channel that is showing the movie, but the channel is currently on a commercial break from the movie, which explains why the movie isn't playing at this very moment.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 17:02

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