Yours in Good Grammar: “Breakthrough”

Yours in good grammar: The Space Makes the Case!

A “breakthrough” is defined as “a significant or sudden advance, development, or achievement that removes a barrier to progress; a person’s first success.”

“Breakthrough” is one of a group of words, like cleanup, login, setup, and standout, that is one word as a noun or adjective, but changes to two words when it is used as a verb. It can be tricky, so when you use a word like “breakthrough,” take a moment to decide whether you mean the concept of a “breakthrough” as a noun or adjective, or as “breaking through” in an active, verb sense.

A trick I’ve found that works is to ask yourself if you can add “a” or “the” in front of one of these words or one of these words combined with another; if so, it’s the one word noun or adjective. If you can add “need to” in front of the word, it’s actually the two-word verb. Take a look:

Noun: The nomination marks a major breakthrough.

Adjective: It was a real breakthrough moment.

Verb phrase:

I will break through to a new level this year.

I am breaking through to a new level this year.

At the conference, she broke through her fear.

This chapter has broken through to national prominence.