Something as simple as adding a letter or space can change the meaning of the word. One of our previous posts talked about the difference between good night vs. goodnight, as well as capital and capitol.
Today, we’re going to discuss another commonly confused word pairing in the English language. This pairing is breath and breathe.
When you’re panicking, do you take a deep breath to calm down, or do you use “breathe?” When you visit a forest for the first time, do you breathe in the fresh air or is breath the right word?
At the end of this article, you won’t have the breath vs. breathe dilemma. You’ll learn how to define breath and breathe, use these word pairs effectively in a sentence and remember their difference.
What is the Difference Between Breath vs. Breathe?
You can differentiate breath vs. breathe by getting their definition.
Let’s begin with breath. This noun refers to the air expelled from or taken into the lungs. You can also use the word “breath” to refer to a complete cycle of breathing. If you’re doing yoga, for instance, you might need to maintain a particular pose for a few breaths.
Breath also has a figurative meaning. You can use this word to talk about a small amount of something, typically wind. Also, people use breath to signify rest or a pause. A couple of example phrases include “catch breath” and “take a deep breath.”
Now, let’s look at the word “breathe.” As an intransitive verb, this can refer to the regular physiological process of taking air into the lungs and then expelling it. You can also use this term to state something that enables free circulation or passage of air. This is why you may hear a person mentions an article of clothing that “breathes.”
Breathe, as an intransitive verb, can refer to something people use in breathing. You breathe air, but you don’t breathe water. If you add out or in, breathe can be synonymous with exhale and inhale. During meditation, you breathe in and breathe out slowly.
You can also use “breathe” as you would “have” or “impart.” You could, for example, say that you breathe an air of mystery or breathe life into a party.
A Look at Breath and Breathe in a Sentence
Now that you’re aware of the definition of breath and breathe, the next step is to see both words in action. The following are example sentences that use these two terms:
- You can prevent bad breath by brushing and flossing your teeth every day.
- Fun fact: fish have gills that allow them to breathe underwater.
- I told him not to waste his breath on his ex.
- When Elise felt anxious, she took a few moments to breathe.
- Before giving my speech, I took a deep breath and tried to relax.
- Benjamin was a devoted basketball fan. He lived and breathed basketball every day of his life.
You can also find breath and breathe in a lot of common phrases and idiomatic expressions. Here are more examples:
- Save your breath.
- Please do not breathe down my neck.
- I will keep your secret to my last breath.
- Don’t breathe a word to your parents.
- You changed my world in just one breath.
- I’m so busy that I don’t even have time to breathe.
Breath vs. Breathe: When Do You Use These Words?
When you want to use the noun form, use breath and omit the “e” at the end of the word. Use breath when you are referring to a thing.
You then add a second “e” when you want to use the verb form. Use breathe when you’re showing action.
Breath or Breathe? Here’s How to Remember the Difference
The breath vs. breathe is a common error that a lot of people mix up. The good news is that there’s a simple way to remember the difference between the noun and the verb.
Just remember this sentence: Take a breath in order to breathe.
Breath vs. Breathe Quiz Time
Let’s now test to see if you know the difference between breath vs. breathe. Choose the right word in the following sentences:
- Try to (breath, breathe) slowly whenever you feel stressed.
- Michelle stayed away from her boss because he had bad (breath, breathe).
- Robin couldn’t take a good (breath, breathe) because the air was polluted.
- I ran for so long that I am all out of (breath, breathe)
- The doctors put Aunt Amanda on a respirator because she could not (breath, breathe) well on her own.
- I have a feeling that my colleague doesn’t like me. Whenever he sees me, he just mutters under his (breath, breathe).
- (Breath, breathe) new life to your interior by adding decorations.
- During my medical checkup, the doctor asked me to (breath, breathe) deeply.
- How much faster do you (breath, breathe) when you work out?
- Not a single (breath, breathe) of air came into the house even with the windows wide open.
The difference between breath vs. breathe is just one letter, but this letter is enough to change the meaning of a word completely. So make sure that you pick the right word to avoid confusion.