Reading the article, I didn't understand the meaning of "break into" and "get into"

It's very difficult to break into journalism, meaning it is very difficult to get into a career in journalism.

Consulting with a few dictionaries: macmillan, cambridge I still don't understand.

Break into (and get into) in this context states that it's very difficult to start enjoying journalism when you're attempting to make a career in it. Correct?

  • The answer is right under your nose. It means that it is not easy to start working as a journalist, or start a career in journalism. It has nothing to do with enjoyment.
    – Usernew
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 14:04
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    Your cited usage isn't the idiomatic phrasal verb (be into = like very much). It's just a normal usage - where into is redundant, and wouldn't always (or even often) be included. It's difficult to break into / obtain / start a career in journalism. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 14:07
  • @Usernew Look at this Be interested in or involved with I suppose if you're interested in what you're doing you enjoy it more-or-less... Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 14:10
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    @DmitriiBundin While "into" is frequently used idiomatically this way, it's pretty clear from the context that that's not what's meant here.
    – Era
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 14:44
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    @Usernew & Era - I think those things are "pretty clear" and "right under your nose" if you are a native English speaker. For learners, the various ways a phrasal verb like get into can be used can be confusing and vexing. M-W lists 8 possible meanings, and so does Collins – and they don't even all overlap!
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 15:56

3 Answers 3


Usernew's answer is correct about the meaning of break into. The subsequent phrase get into is merely clarifying the meaning of break into, and is not itself idiomatic (the comments are correct). The purpose of the sentence is explaining an idiomatic expression using a non-idiomatic expression that means the same thing.

Neither phrase has anything to do with enjoying journalism in this context. They both refer to entering the field of journalism, and it is in that sense that you get into (the field of) journalism.

  • One could argue that get into is just as idiomatic as break into. It's at least as metaphorical, I think.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 16:09
  • @J.R. IMO, there isn't really a strict distinction in English between figurative and non-figurative language. I think this particular example could arguably be considered a dead metaphor, but it's not really idiomatic.
    – Era
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 17:23
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    I agree, to a point. I'm just trying to analyze this phrase the way a novice learner might. If I were a learner trying to parse get into journalism, I might start by looking up the word get, where I'd get lost in a hurry. I might then figure out that get into is a phrasal verb, but even that has multiple meanings. And getting into journalism isn't quite the same thing as getting into a car; to me, this seems somewhere in the fuzzy space between metaphoric, figurative, and idiomatic figures of speech.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 12:54

To answer your question: not quite. They are simply saying that it is difficult to start a career in journalism.

Additionally, both break into and get into in this case have the meaning of becoming a part of something, typically some sort of group. However, break into also has the implication that the accomplishment is difficult, without actually having to say so. For example:

If my novel is as good as I think it is, I should be able to break into writing as a career.
It's harder for a woman to break into the executive level of a corporation than it is for a man.

Get into doesn't have that same sense of difficulty:

I'm going to get into writing.
I'm going to get into Sunday School teaching.

Now, another meaning of break into is burgle, as in break into a house.

  • Good answer. One quick footnote, if I may: sometimes, get into is used when there's some degree of difficulty involved (for example, "Linda is trying to get into Harvard"). It all depends on the exclusivity of what you're trying to get into.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 1:46
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    @J.R. That's true too, and a good point. I guess I should say that get into doesn't automatically have that implication where break into does.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 1:53

Break into1 is a phrasal verb which also means to successfully start a business or get into a profession.

dictionary.com gives the following meaning:

to be admitted into; enter, as a business or profession:

Also, here is an excerpt from a book:

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1. myenglishpages.com

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