Mixing up breathe and breath is a really common error. Luckily, there’s an easy way to remember the difference between the verb and the noun.
If you are doing the action (verb) of taking in and letting out air, then use breathe with an E at the end.
If you are referring to the thing (noun) that you are taking in and letting out, use breath—no E at the end.
To remember the difference, think about the letter E at the end of breathe. Then remember that the word verb has an E, but the word noun doesn’t.
So breathe = verb.
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 are aliens 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.
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