Quick answer
"Fall apart" is an intransitive verb phrase which is often translated as "deshacerse", and "break up" is an intransitive verb phrase which is often translated as "separarse". Learn more about the difference between "fall apart" and "break up" below.
fall apart
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
1. (to break into pieces)
a. deshacerse
The book was so old that it fell apart in my hands.El libro era tan viejo que se deshizo en mis manos.
The sandcastle the kids made is falling apart.El castillo de arena que hicieron los niños se está deshaciendo.
b. caerse a pedazos
Buy yourself some new boots. Those are about to fall apart.Cómprate unas botas nuevas. Esas se van a caer a pedazos.
2. (to become ineffective)
a. desmoronarse
There were so many divisions within the party that it was falling apart.Había tantas divisiones dentro del partido que este se estaba desmoronando.
b. fracasar
The couple's marriage fell apart because they were totally unsuited to each other.El matrimonio de la pareja fracasó porque eran totalmente incompatibles.
c. venirse abajo
The project fell apart due to lack of funds.El proyecto se vino abajo debido a la falta de fondos.
3. (to become emotionally undone)
a. derrumbarse
Losing his job was the last straw, and he fell apart.Cuando perdió su trabajo, esa fue la gota que colmó el vaso, y se derrumbó.
b. desmoronarse
Don fell apart when Janice left him.Don se desmoronó cuando Janice lo dejó.
c. venirse abajo
Don't fall apart now that you've come so far.No te vengas abajo ahora que ya has recorrido tanto camino.
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break up(
breyk
 
uhp
)
An intransitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and does not require a direct object (e.g. Everybody please stand up.).
intransitive verb phrase
1. (to dissolve a relationship)
a. separarse
Breaking up is never easy, whether in romance or business.Separarse nunca es sencillo, ya sea en el amor o en los negocios.
2. (to split up; often used with "with")
a. romper
He didn't eat for weeks after he broke up with his girlfriend.No comió por semanas después de romper con su novia.
b. terminar
He was so cowardly that he used a text message to break up with his girlfriend.Fue tan cobarde que usó un mensaje de texto para terminar con su novia.
c. cortar
Do you know why they broke up?¿Sabes por qué cortaron?
3. (to disintegrate)
a. desintegrarse
The heavy rains caused the rocks in the quarry to break up into sediment.Las fuertes lluvias hicieron que las piedras de la cantera se desintegraran hasta convertirse en sedimento.
b. deshacerse
If you add some water to the gravy and whisk vigorously, the lumps will break up.Si añades un poco de agua al jugo de carne y bates enérgicamente, los grumos se desharán.
4. (education) (United Kingdom)
a. terminar
After our final exams, school will break up.Después de nuestros exámenes finales, la escuela terminará.
b. empezar las vacaciones
Do you break up this week or next week?¿Empiezas las vacaciones esta semana o la semana que viene?
5. (to laugh uncontrollably)
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
a. reírse a carcajadas
This comedian is great. He gets the crowd to break up every time.Este comediante es excelente. Hace que el público se ría a carcajadas.
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
6. (to cause to separate)
a. dispersar
The police officers broke up the crowd that had gathered in the business district.Los policías dispersaron a la muchedumbre que se había reunido en el distrito comercial.
b. poner fin a
The two teachers broke up the fight in the hallway.Los dos maestros pusieron fin a la pelea que había en el pasillo.
c. desarticular
The primary aim of our police force has been to break up the street gangs that terrorize our city.El objetivo principal de nuestro cuerpo de policía es desarticular las bandas callejeras que aterrorizan nuestra ciudad.
d. dividir
Don't listen to their rumors. They just want to break up our group.No hagas caso a sus rumores. Solo quieren dividir a nuestro grupo.
7. (to separate into pieces)
a. desguazar
The crew broke up the ships to salvage metal that the airplane factory could use.La tripulación desguazó los barcos para reciclar el metal que la fábrica de aviones podría usar.
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