I rarely go a day without seeing this mistake. So, if you have problems mixing up breathe and breath, don’t feel bad; you have lots of company.
Luckily there’s an easy way to remember the difference.
If you are doing the action (verb) of taking in and letting out air, use breathe with an e at the end.
If you are referring to the air (noun) you are taking in and letting out, use breath—no e at the end.
Breathe is a verb (because it’s an action). Breath is a noun (because it’s a thing).
Here are some sample sentences:
Martin was thankful he could breathe deeply when he recovered from his cold.
Francis took a deep breath before he jumped in the pool.
Test your skills with a quiz. Fill in either breathe or breath in the blanks. The answers are at the bottom.
1. Fish ________ in water.
2. Marcy hated her boss because he had bad _______.
3. Do you think there is alien life who _______ something other than oxygen?
4. The doctors put Uncle George on a respirator because he couldn’t _______ well on his own.
5. Sally couldn’t take a good _______ because the air was filled with smoke.
1. breathe 2. breath 3. breathe 4. breathe 5. breath.
Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.
Sign up for the Dot and Dash newsletter to get writing tips and tricks and exclusive deals.