Let’s break vs. let’s pause

23. 5. 2021

WRONG: The first part of the seminar is finished so let’s pause for lunch.
RIGHT: The first part of the seminar is finished so let’s break for lunch.

Break and pause can cause problems in English because in Czech, you say the same phrase, „Dám si pauzu“ for both. In English, however, there is a bit of a difference.

A pause is shorter, usually, and it interrupts an activity for a short while, then the activity is resumed. The situation is the same, no major activity has taken place in the pause. So for example, you might take a pause when you are speaking, or you might pause the DVD to make a phone call and then a few moments later, start watching it again. It is momentary and the situation remains unchanged.

A break is where you stop an activity to do another one. So, for example, you might take a break for lunch, meaning to go somewhere else and eat lunch. It is longer than a simple pause. You might take a break in your studies to have a baby, or go travelling. You wouldn’t take a pause in your studies.

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