Today I reached the office late.

My boss asked: "why you are late?"
I said: “My car had been breakdown near circle."
Then boss asked: "Then how you reached office"
I said: “I called the mechanic. He repaired the car. After repairing done I took the car and come to office"

I want to tell him my car had breakdown at 8:00 am and till 10:00am I had that problem till car was attained by mechanic my problem solved and reached home.

Should I use "had been" or is just "was" okay in my first answer? Is the above conversation correct? Specially my first answer. If not then how should this conversation be?

  • 4
    Such as it stands your question looks like proofreading which is off-topic on the site. So that it does not get closed, could you please specify what particular difficulty you have with the sentence? For example do you have a problem using the word "breakdown" (I suspect you might confuse the verb and the noun)?
    – None
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 10:43

2 Answers 2


I think the primary source of your confusion is conflating three very similar uses of these words. “Break” and “down” can be combined in different ways in different grammatical functions to say different things.

“Breakdown” as one word is always a noun, specifically a catastrophic event that a car can have.

breakdown    noun

a failure of a machine to function : an occurrence in which a machine (such as a car) stops working
Source: Merriam-Webster definition of “breakdown”

  • My car had a breakdown.

“Break down” as two words is a phrasal verb, the first word of which can be conjugated to indicate the timeframe of when a breakdown occurred, e.g.:

  • My car broke down near the circle around eight o’clock this morning.
  • My car has broken down.

“Broken down” can also be an adjectival phrase that describes a car that has broken down, e.g.:

  • My car was broken down until ten o’clock this morning.
  • My car is broken down.

There are a number of ways to phrase that.

I assume by circle you mean the same as roundabout, I am aware they are called circles not only in other countries but in parts of the UK too. - see here Wikipedia-roundabout

My car broke down near the circle.

My car had broken down near the circle.

My car had a breakdown near the circle.

And in reply to your boss when he asks "Then how you reached office?" or "Then how did you reach the office?"

You could reply

I called the mechanic. He repaired the car. After the repairs were done I took the car and came to the office.

  • As per my knowledge had breakdown means just break down. And had been break down means car had break down for some time in past till mechanic come. Correct me if I'm wrong
    – user4084
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 13:58
  • It should be had a breakdown for when your car stops working, but that doesn't explain that you got the car repaired. You can say my car was broken down, but now it's repaired. You can say my car had been broken down which suggests it has been repaired (but not everyone will understand that you mean now it's repaired) but had been break down is wrong, you need the adjective broken, not the noun breakdown.
    – Frank
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 14:37
  • @user4084 Is the problem with had? That is the past-tense of have but it's not referring to whether the car is still broken down or not. It's referring to the fact that the breakdown happened in the past. Even when your car is repaired it will still have had a breakdown, even though it's not broken down at the moment. I hope that makes sense.
    – Frank
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 14:50
  • 2
    Roundabouts aren't simply referred to as "circles" in the U.S., they are called "traffic circles". Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 14:54
  • 1
    @HostileFork- but when you have a traffic circle in your town you often refer to it as just "the circle".
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 6, 2014 at 0:11

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