When you drive a car and you see something wrong with your car, so you must stop it. What is correct to say immediately and after 1 hour? My version is in brackets.

  1. My car breaks down. (immediately, if it is by itself)
  2. My car has broken down. (after 1 hour, if it was by itself)
  3. My car is broken down. (immediately, because of poor service)
  4. My car has been broken down. (after 1 hour, if it was because of poor service)

This example with the car is important for me to better understand the language.

Is it possible to use passive voice in these sentences or only active voice with some variations?


  • First one: Habitual or constant state (not correct for immediate). 2: Also can use immediately (since it has broken down when you say it). 3: Also can say after 1 hour (since car will still be broken at that time). 4. Brings attention to the time for which the car has been broken ("My car has been broken for 8 months").
    – user57928
    Apr 17, 2020 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


To start with, a car or other piece of machinery breaks down, it doesn't break. It makes no difference whether the fault was caused by poor service or some other cause.

We say, 'My car has broken down'. We might possibly say it was 'breaking down' if we were about to stop because a serious fault was developing. We would only use 'breaks down' if it does so habitually. "My car always breaks down when it's raining."

  • May be you saw in question sth else. I'm sorry what "down" wasn't used in all sentences. It was my hurry. The main question for me: Is it possible to use passive voice in these sentences or only active voice with some variations?
    – Sergei
    Apr 20, 2020 at 15:33
  • No, you can't use the passive voice with this sense of break down. If something has been broken down, it has been divided into smaller parts. From the Cambridge Dictionary : To separate, or to separate something, into smaller parts: Can you break down our expenses by month and by region? The data breaks down into three main categories. Apr 20, 2020 at 16:11

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