I want to know which of these two sentences below is correct both grammar and meaning wise :

So many appliances in our apartment had been broken down and then got repaired


So many appliances in our apartment had broken down and then got repaired

I prefer the first sentence because passive grammar is used in it , and I should say that I have an IELTS exam in less than a month and I want my mistakes to be corrected , if here is not the right place for asking such questions , let me know please.


  • 1
    You'd only use had been broken down if you meant the appliances were dismantled (perhaps in order to recycle various components). Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 15:40
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers it does work if you add a timeframe, e.g. "the appliances had been broken down for a long time before we bothered fixing them."
    – Drake P
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 23:00

5 Answers 5


If an appliance breaks down, it stops working. If it is broken down, someone takes it apart deliberately.

Presumably the appliances in the apartment had broken down rather than had been broken down.

  • 1
    your conclusion is right but your first sentence isn't true if you think about it, for example 'sorry I can't drive tonight as my car is/has broken down' is perfectly fine common parlance and doesn't imply someone has dismantled my car :)
    – jdk
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 21:34
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    @jdk Kate's first sentence is perfectly true. In most dialects, my car is broken down is NOT the same as my car has broken down; although your particular dialect may be different. Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 2:19
  • @jdk - Yes, but you wouldn't say My car has been broken down. I was referring to be broken down as a passive verb rather than broken down as an adjectival phrase. Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 7:51
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    @kate bunting - "Yes, but you wouldn't say My car has been broken down." Really? what's wrong with 'my car's been broken down since last wednesday'?
    – jdk
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 9:42
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    @KateBunting Who told you what "If it is broken down, someone takes it apart deliberately" might mean? That does apply in many circumstances and equally clearly, it does not apply in others. Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 22:03

Please note:

ACTIVE usage: Appliances often break down after a few years.
The car broke down on the highway.

VERB: to break down, to no longer work or be functional.

PASSIVE VERB: to break down, to take apart

The industrial machines were broken down for parts and then sold.


"Had been broken down [by something]" is the implication of "Had been broken down".

"Had broken down" doesn't have that implication.


"Had been broken down"(past perfect continuous*)refers to what was in the past and raises ones curiosity as to whether it is still broken down. "Had broken down"(past perfect*)leads one to think that it is probably still broken down. I hope this makes sense and is helpful to you. If I had more information I could give a response that is more closely tailored to your needs. ref:*my own high school teachers many years ago! :) To answer your question-It depends on the context of what you are writing about as to which one is correct. Okay, It's the 2nd one that is correct!! Take care now!

  • 1
    Hi Joanna, welcome to ELL! A note: this is about 'broken down', specifically. In case you haven't, I suggest always reading through the existing answers.
    – Joachim
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:49
  • Thank you for your comment. I hope I managed to alleviate what's missing from what you've suggested.
    – Joanna
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 2:53

'had broken down and then got repaired' is the clearer way to say it. As the answers from other posters implied, 'had been broken down' is ambiguous. It doesn't necessarily mean that someone took it apart (the faults could have been temporary for instance) but it might be construed that way.

'got repaired' is passive and not very pretty, possibly consider 'needed repairing' instead.

You could rephrase the whole sentence more economically by simply saying 'we had to repair many of the appliances in our apartment', which implies they had broken down.

Please note that in most cases you ought to prefer active phrasing over passive phrasing. The passive tense is sometimes necessary but it's good to avoid it if you can.

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