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Breath vs. Breathe

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Both breath and breathe have something to do with air in our lungs, but each word has a different function in the sentence. One refers to the air itself, and the other is the action of inhaling and exhaling.

Stopping abruptly, he said, “I need to catch my breath.”

While scuba diving, he used compressed air to breathe.

The short answer is that breath is a noun, and breathe is a verb, but I will go into more detail below.

In this post, I want to compare breath vs. breathe. I will go over the definitions of each word and how they function in a sentence. Plus, at the end, I will give you a trick to remember the difference. After reading this post, you won’t ever again wonder to yourself, “Is it spelled breath or breathe?”

Origin:

Breath originated from Old English brǣth ‘smell, scent’, of Germanic origin; related to brood. Breathe originated from Middle English (in the sense ‘exhale, steam’): from breath..

Breath as noun:

Breath is used as a noun which means the air taken into or expelled from the lungs.

I was gasping for breath.

Breathe as verb:

Breathe is a verb which means to take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process.

She was breathing deeply.

Use of breath:

Breath (pronounced breth) is a noun and refers to the air inhaled or exhaled out of one’s lungs. Breath refers to the actual air that is either inhaled or exhaled from one’s lungs. As I mentioned above, it is pronounced as breth (rhymes with death).

Examples:

Take a breath; it will be okay.

Your breath smells like cheese. Have you eating cheese today?

Do you think Eric will be on time today? Don’t hold you breath.

The annual spiritual validation on mainstream television is a breath of fresh air. –The Wall Street Journal

Use of breathe:

Breathe (pronounced breeth) is a verb and to breathe is the action of inhaling and exhaling air using the lungs. Breathe doesn’t refer to air itself; instead, it refers to the action of inhaling and exhaling air from one’s lungs. Breath is also pronounced differently that breath. Breathe is pronounced as breeth (rhymes with seethe).

Examples:

After the race, I could hardly breathe.

If you replace this dirty air filter, your can will be able to breathe better.

She breathed on the window and it fogged up.

Let me preface this by saying that there are few more passionate football fans than me. I live and breathe by the fate of the New York Jets. –New York Post

Breath or breathe:

Is it breathe or breath? The spelling, of course, depends on your sentence. Do you need a noun or a verb? Breath is a noun and refers to the air that it inhaled or exhaling while breathing. Breathe is a verb and is the action of inhaling or exhaling. Here is a useful trick to remember breathe vs. breath. If you use this as a memory check when you go to use these words, you will be all set. Think of the extra “e” in breathe as standing for exhale. To breathe is to exhale.

He breathed heavily trying to catch his breath.

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"Breath vs. Breathe." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 25 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/breath_vs._breathe>.

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